Bosch announces major order for joint venture

By Ian Cameron17 June 2021

Company to supply components for use in heavy trucks and other applications

Bosch has won a major supply order with cellcentric, the 50:50 joint venture between Daimler Truck AG and Volvo Group AB, for electric air compressors with integrated power electronics.

They are for use in fuel-cell systems for heavy trucks and other on- and off-highway applications and large-scale production is due to begin by around 2025.

An electric air compressor with integrated power electronics from Bosch.

Bosch has signed a long-term agreement with cellcentric to supply this high-tech component. The JV cellcentric aims to become a leading global manufacturer of fuel-cell systems.

The air compressor will be part of the cellcentric fuel-cell system that will feature in heavy trucks and stationary applications in the future.

In fuel cells, hydrogen reacts with atmospheric oxygen to produce electrical energy as well as water and heat. Running a fuel-cell powertrain on hydrogen that is green – in other words, produced using renewable energy – makes the vehicle climate neutral, said Bosch.

As the electric air compressor supplies the required amount of filtered air, it is one of the core components of a fuel-cell system, the company added.

“Bosch is devoting a huge effort to developing this component. For example, we have 15 cross-divisional teams working to commercialize the electric air compressor,” said Dr. Uwe Gackstatter, president of the Bosch Powertrain Solutions division.

Bosch offers the air compressor in two power classes – 20 and 30 kilowatts. The 30-kilowatt class is rated for voltages from 450 to 850 volts, while the 20-kilowatt class is rated for either 250–450 volts or 450–850 volts.

The compressor wheel reaches speeds of more than 100,000 rpm. “The combination of a high-speed electric motor with integrated power electronics enables easy system integration at competitive manufacturing costs,” Gackstatter added.

In addition, the silicon carbide semiconductors used in Bosch power electronics make this powerful component particularly efficient. It is features such as these that cellcentric was looking for, said Bosch.

It added that with the air compressor, the greatest technical challenge lies in scaling up the production of the high-speed electric motors with their air bearings and power electronics from customized to large-scale manufacturing. Since the overall technical complexity is comparable with that of a diesel injection system for commercial vehicles, the effect of these systems on employment is a positive one, it added.

Bosch said that it “believes that hydrogen has a bright future as an energy carrier” and it is making considerable upfront investments in this area. From 2021 to 2024, the company plans to invest around 600 million euros in mobile fuel-cell applications and a further 400 million euros in stationary ones for the generation of electricity and heat. The portfolio for vehicles ranges from individual sensors to core components such as the electric air compressor and the stack to the complete fuel-cell module.

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