With the automotive industry placing fuel cell-powered engines at the forefront of many research and development programs, Rheinmetall and its subsidiary Pierburg are focusing on the development of fuel cell technology. With efforts in this sector ramped up, the pair are currently working on an array of components to help deliver advanced drive solutions to the automotive sector, utilizing Pierburg’s knowledge of actuators during the R&D process.
Pierburg has announced that several hundred sample orders of a prototype cathode shut-off valve for a leading North American customer are to go ahead, which it estimates this will progress into nominations for full-scale production orders for other companies later in the year.
To meet a multitude of customer requirements in the areas of utilization, packaging, and interfaces, Pierburg engineers have decided to adhere to a modular approach. Its product range now includes valves for fuel cells with an electric output of up to 200kW, and alongside these, the manufacturer now offers numerous variants of its currently available electric actuators and interfaces.
Low leakage requirements of shut-off valves, which isolate the fuel cell stack on the cathode side at the inlet and outlet points from the surrounding environment, have since been successfully verified for operating times of up to 12,000 hours.
Pierburg says that a new generation of components, which are currently under development, should increase this lifespan further, enabling operating hours in commercial vehicles and other stationary applications to reach at least 20,000 hours.