A pan-European project to coordinate the mass production of fuel cell stacks has been launched to drive down the cost of hydrogen (H2) transport.

As the adoption of H2 technologies continues to gather pace, the €3.5m ($3.8m) Digiman programme intends to further commercialise fuel cells for the mass automotive market.

Outputs of the venture aim to demonstrate operational and supply chain cost reduction through the integration of digital manufacturing techniques and advanced technologies that are optimised for automated production.

Once developed, the blueprint design will enable build-to-print machine configurations with ready-to-scale production capacity to meet future requirements of more than 50,000 fuel cell stacks by 2020.

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The scheme will receive funding from the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU) under the EU programme Horizon 2020, which focuses on creating a robust platform for future stack production for zero-emission vehicles.

UK-based Intelligent Energy is leading the three-year project with overall coordination provided by CEA Tech-Liten, with the former’s Head of Manufacturing Richard Peart underlining, “We need to ensure fuel cell stacks are robustly industrialised and remain cost competitive in the future.”

The programme will centre on developing Intelligent Energy’s proprietary Air Cooled fuel cell architecture. The project will also benefit commercialisation within multiple market sectors, including stationary and power drone.

“We need to ensure fuel cell stacks are robustly industrialised and remain cost competitive in the future”

Intelligent Energy’s Head of Manufacturing, Richard Peart

FCH2 JU Executive Director Bart Biebuyck said that the Digiman initiative contributes to the organisation’s overall strategy and added, “The project will indeed improve the manufacturing techniques by reducing the production time and costs, and increase the quality levels of PEMFC stacks.”

“The project is contributing to maintain Europe at the competitive edge on the key technologies for clean transport.”

Clean energy solution provider Intelligent Energy holds almost 30 years of experience in fuel cell development.