Fuel cells offer great hope for sustainable power generation. They have an extremely wide range of applications. In a new system for the quality assurance of bipolar plates, electric cylinders EPCO help to prevent vibration to allow continuous testing with short cycle times.
Discovered more than 170 years ago, the development of fuel cells was for many years overshadowed by combustion engines. Although they facilitated the moon landing as an emission-free energy source in the 1960s, their potential was only brought to the attention of the wider public as the climate change debate intensified. Unlike thermal engines, fuel cells generate electrical energy directly from chemical energy. They do not need to undergo thermal processes and mechanical work first. Without the complex conversion into heat and power, fuel cells achieve a high degree of efficiency. Individual cells consist of two electrodes and a semi-permeable membrane, also referred to as a bipolar plate. Electrical energy is created through the exchange of hydrogen and oxygen electrons and protons between two electrodes.
The Festo expert Michael Karcher talks to the customer magazine “trends in automation”.
trends in automation: How is Festo supporting the development of renewable energy sources?
Michael Karcher, Head of Industry Segment ELA and Solar, Festo: We have been researching renewable energy production technologies at Festo since 2006. We identify processes for new technologies and develop practical solutions. These include the design of new grippers and handling systems which do not impair the surface finish of sensitive products.
trends in automation: What advantages does this offer in the area of fuel cells?
Michael Karcher: In the production of fuel cells, a low-vibration handling system can increase cycle times and thus contribute to efficient production. If we can reduce production costs, there is a better chance of renewable energy sources such as fuel cells becoming established in the market.