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Symbio uses Borit metal bipolar plates in its commercial fuel cell range extender

Belgium-based is the supplier-of-choice for metal bipolar plates in the successful range extender fuel cell systems of the French market leader . (Earlier post.) The production of metal bipolar plates—a key component in fuel cells—is challenging, requiring subtle structures, tight tolerances, precise and gas tight laser welding of very thin metal sheets, and strict quality control in a cost-efficient way at advantageous prices.

The performance and power density of fuel cells—particularly important in vehicles—strongly depends on the capabilities of the bipolar plate manufacturer. Borit’s production is based on its proprietary forming technology Hydrogate, which enables fast development from prototyping to volume production.


Borit bi-polar plate. Click to enlarge.

shapes metals (sheet or tube) such as steel, stainless steel and aluminum using highly pressurized fluid in die molding. Sheet hydroforming uses one die and a sheet of metal; the blank sheet is driven into the die by high pressure water on one side of the sheet.

Hydrogate advances classical hydroforming to a continuous process via a novel press concept. Utilizing hydrostatic pressure, Hydrogate offers a strong alternative to the traditional forming processes such as a deep drawing by producing challenging geometries with low residual stress resulting in very flat plates.

As a single step process, working from coil, Hydrogate offers repeatable quality, attractive turnaround times, low tooling costs and high productivity.

For the past five years, we have been delighted to work in collaboration with Borit’s engineering team. With a fast and short cycle for fuel cells development as well as a smooth transition from prototyping to series production, we are pleased to welcome Borit as a partner for the commercialisation of our Fuel Cell Range Extender.

—Fabio Ferrari, CEO Symbio

Comments

Dr. Strange Love

Symbio. Thank you for the advertisement and making novel improvements to the ubiquitous hydroforming tool industry. Now tell us how much your extended application adds to the cost of FC production, and when can we see your work used in 10% of new vehicle products. I am interest in the Year and Month. (I just felt 10% was not overly ambitious.)

SJC

If you have 800 plates, the cost per plate is important.
I would like to see more development of High Temperature PEM so we can use reformed liquid fuels.

Arnold

Hydroforming is very cost effective and used extensively to mass produce very low cost high integrity formed complex structures.
Used extensively in pushbike frames and nearly every quality steel pressing operation.
The critical requirement is quality control of the plate.
The weld quality control is critical but again robots and cleanrooms are widespread in mass production industrial and electronics industries.

HarveyD

Robots could probably reproduce and assemble those plates on 24/7 basis at the high quality required for higher performance fuel cells.

That being said, near future FCs could cost less and perform better and longer at higher efficiency? That's what may be required for improved future FCEVs.

SJC

Many plates are made with injection molded plastic containing Nafion membranes. The temperature with LTPEMs is under 100C.

Arnold

Ambigious: "Plate" I meant the roll of steel raw material but also the finished item.

SJC

There is no need for a metal plate, you need a conductor but that can be done with a sheet of stainless steel, the plastic part is the gasket between the plate and membrane.

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