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Bosch enters the series production of fuel cells for trucks and cars

By April 29, 2019 6   min read  (1106 words)

April 29, 2019 |

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Cooperation agreed with stack manufacturer Powercell

  • Bosch CEO Hartung: “Bosch is entering the market for mobile fuel cells and is consistently driving industrialization forward.”
  • Bosch and Powercell are working together to further develop stacks.
  • Bosch produces jointly developed stacks under license for the automotive market.
  • In 2030, up to 20 percent of all-electric vehicles worldwide will be powered by fuel cells.

Stuttgart — Bosch is entering the market for mobile fuel cells and is preparing the breakthrough in technology for trucks and cars. The stack, which is the heart of a fuel cell, converts hydrogen into electrical energy. For the further development and production of stacks, Bosch has now entered into a cooperation with the Swedish manufacturer of fuel cell stacks, Powercell Sweden AB. 

The agreement stipulates that both partners will jointly develop the stack based on the polymer electrolyte fuel cell (PEM) until it is ready for series production and that Bosch will produce the technology for the global automotive market in series under license. The stack complements the Bosch portfolio of fuel cell components and is scheduled to be launched in 2022 at the latest. 

“Bosch has a strong hand in the field of fuel cells – now even a trump card thanks to the cooperation with Powercell. Industrializing technology is one of our strengths. We are now tackling this consistently and opening up the market, ”says Dr. Stefan Hartung, Bosch Managing Director and Chairman of the Mobility Solutions division

For Bosch, there is long-term potential in the business with mobile fuel cell technology in the billions. According to Bosch estimates, up to 20 percent of all-electric vehicles worldwide will be powered by fuel cells by 2030. 

“With all of its power and expertise, Bosch gives our fuel cell technology the opportunity to gain a foothold in the automotive market. Bosch is the best partner we can imagine for this, ”says Powercell CEO Per Wassén. 

Industrializing technology is one of our strengths. We are now tackling this consistently and opening up the market, ”says Dr. Stefan Hartung, Bosch Managing Director and Chairman of the Mobility Solutions divisionFor Bosch, there is long-term potential in the business with mobile fuel cell technology in the billions. According to Bosch estimates, up to 20 percent of all-electric vehicles worldwide will be powered by fuel cells by 2030.

Fuel cell technology for commercial vehicles and cars

Bosch sees the best opportunities for the widespread use of fuel cell technology in the commercial vehicle market. The European Union’s fleet requirements for trucks envisage a reduction in CO₂ emissions by an average of 15 percent by 2025 and by 30 percent by 2030. According to Bosch, this goal can only be achieved with increasing electrification of the drive. The fuel cell plays a crucial role in this. Starting with commercial vehicles, fuel cell drives from Bosch will increasingly be used in cars in the future. To do this, however, the costs for fuel cell systems must gradually decrease. The biggest item is the stack. This accounts for up to two thirds of the total costs of a fuel cell system. “Through industrialization and the spread of technology on the market, Bosch will achieve economies of scale and turn costs,” says Hartung. The costs also have to decrease with hydrogen. Currently, the energy source is mainly manufactured for industrial applications with a price per kilogram of often more than five euros. As production increases, the price will tend to fall. One kilogram of hydrogen contains as much energy as 3.3 liters of diesel. A 40 tonner needs about nine to ten kilograms of hydrogen for 100 kilometers. As production increases, the price will tend to fall. One kilogram of hydrogen contains as much energy as 3.3 liters of diesel. A 40 tonner needs about nine to ten kilograms of hydrogen for 100 kilometers. As production increases, the price will tend to fall. One kilogram of hydrogen contains as much energy as 3.3 liters of diesel. A 40 tonner needs about nine to ten kilograms of hydrogen for 100 kilometers.

Bosch as a system provider with an extensive portfolio

Hydrogen can be produced in a climate-neutral manner using renewable electricity. Various industrial companies are working to optimize this process. There is also a small hydrogen filling station network of over 60 stations in Germany – and the trend is rising. Hydrogen is refueled as a highly compressed gas within a few minutes. In the fuel cell, several of which are interconnected to form the stack, the hydrogen reacts with oxygen. This creates – in addition to water as a leftover – electrical energy. This can either be used to charge a battery in the vehicle, or it drives the electric motor directly. By flexibly combining two or more stacks, a service portfolio from cars to heavy trucks can be covered. With its 60 employees, Powercell produces stacks with an output of up to 125 kilowatts increasingly automated. The company, which was founded in 2008 as a spin-off from the Volvo Group and is based in Gothenburg, already supplies fuel cells for prototypical use in trucks and cars. Bosch also has a great deal of expertise in fuel cell technology. The technology and service company sees itself as a system provider and has already developed an extensive portfolio of components for fuel cells in trucks and cars. These include the air compressor with power electronics and the control unit with sensors. Bosch also has a lot of know-how in fuel cell technology. The technology and service company sees itself as a system provider and has already developed an extensive portfolio of components for fuel cells in trucks and cars. These include the air compressor with power electronics and the control unit with sensors. Bosch also has a lot of know-how in fuel cell technology. The technology and service company sees itself as a system provider and has already developed an extensive portfolio of components for fuel cells in trucks and cars. These include the air compressor with power electronics and the control unit with sensors.

Bosch cooperation also for stationary fuel cells

In addition to PEM fuel cells, Bosch is also active in the so-called solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC). With the British specialist Ceres Power, Bosch has been developing SOFC technology since the middle of last year, for example, to supply factories or data centers with decentralized power. The technology is intended to enable small power plants that can be placed anywhere in the city as well as in industrial and commercial areas. The high flexibility of the standardized systems means that peak loads can be covered better. In the future, a SOFC module is expected to generate an electrical output of 10 kilowatts. Any number of modules with the same output can be easily networked for higher energy requirements.

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