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HomeDigital PrintingFraunhofer ISE conferred with F-Cell Award 2020 for Fuel Cell Screen Printing Process

Fraunhofer ISE conferred with F-Cell Award 2020 for Fuel Cell Screen Printing Process

06 October 2020: Large-scale production research – from innovation to prototype to finished product – will be a driving force for the industrialization of fuel cells. Improved fuel cell performance as well as optimized manufacturability in terms of cost efficiency, speed and reliability will lead to better and cheaper products. 

So, German based, the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE) has been conferred with the F-Cell Award this year in the category “Research & Development”. The award distinguished their work on the development of flatbed screen printing as an industrially scalable manufacturing process for fuel cell electrodes. The award was presented to ISE during the f-cell conference in Stuttgart on September 29, 2020.

In the DEKADE project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the ISE advanced the development of screen printing to a scalable manufacturing process for fuel cell production with high throughput and high quality. Two departments at ISE “Production Technology – Structuring and Metallization” and “Fuel Cell Systems” combined their expertise in photovoltaics and hydrogen technology to achieve this goal. Their submission was entitled “Through-Plane Ionomer Gradients in Fuel Cell Catalyst Layers for Enhanced Power Density.”

Screen printing – a technology used in the production of solar cells for decades – enables the industrial application of homogeneous layers as stacks and thus the realization of innovative, structured MEA architectures. ISE has developed continuous ionomer-graduated catalyst layers, which enable a significantly improved power density during the operation of fuel cells. At low current densities, power generation takes place near the membrane and is not yet limited by insufficient oxygen. For better proton conductivity into the catalyst layer, the ionomer content can be increased. At high current densities, the reactive zone moves deeper into the catalyst layer and the oxygen diffusion resistance limits the power. Because of this, the researchers selectively incorporated fewer ionomers in these zones in order to minimize the oxygen diffusion resistance.

“Our success was achieved without introducing any new or extra material into the production process, which means that performance was improved without any increase in material costs,” explains Dr. Matthias Klingele, Head of Group Cell Analysis and Materials at Fraunhofer ISE.

The Institute performs applied scientific and engineering research and development for all areas of solar energy. Fraunhofer ISE has three external branches in Germany which carry out work on solar cell and semiconductor material development: the Laboratory and Service Center (LSC) in Gelsenkirchen, the Technology Center of Semiconductor Materials (THM) in Freiberg, and the Fraunhofer Center for Silicon Photovoltaics (CSP).

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