Mahle develops off-the-shelf air filter for hydrogen powertrains

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Engineering firm Mahle has developed two standardized air filter solutions for fuel cells, which it says can reduce development times and costs for hydrogen vehicles. It is claimed that developers now have direct access to a fully developed “off-the-shelf” component instead of having to design individual solutions for each vehicle.

The new Mahle air filters for cells – with an output of 25–50kW or 80–120kW – reliably protect fuel cells from harmful gases and particles, ensuring the operation of the fuel cell over the entire service life of a vehicle and minimizing the use of expensive catalysts. With this new approach, Mahle says it is bringing the suitability of fuel cell technology for the mass market a significant step closer. Hydrogen and therefore fuel cells themselves are important elements of Mahle’s development work toward CO2 -neutral mobility.

“Mahle has extensive expertise in air filtration, which we’re now benefiting from in the development and production of reliable filter solutions for fuel cell vehicles,” explained Dr Martin Berger, head of Corporate Research and Advanced Engineering at Mahle. “By making the design of the air tract simpler, faster and cheaper with our new standardized approach, we’re bringing the suitability of this future technology for the mass market a significant step closer.”

In order to reliably protect fuel cells and thus make them attractive to the consumer from a price perspective, MAHLE relies on a highly effective filter medium consisting of several layers: a substrate material ensures mechanical stability, while a particulate filter layer blocks 99.9% of unwanted particles. A molecular layer prevents ammonia from entering the fuel cell, an activated carbon layer absorbs unwanted hydrocarbons, and an additional, specially impregnated activated carbon layer stops sulfur dioxide, hydrogen sulfide and nitrogen oxides from reaching the cell.

Mahle uses its holistic systems competence in thermal and air management, power electronics and filtration to support the development of vehicles with fuel cell drives that are suitable for large-scale production. The focus here is on lower systems costs coupled with higher operational safety. Mahle is developing a fuel cell systems portfolio featuring a modular approach based on its current range of components. The group is thereby helping to reduce technological barriers and improve the suitability of vehicles with fuel cell drives for the mass market.

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