Rheinmetall receives large orders for hydrogen fuel cell parts

By Julian Buckley11 February 2022

Rheinmetall hydrogen recirculation blower Rheinmetall hydrogen recirculation blower Photo: Rheinmetall

Rheinmetall AG has reported receiving major orders for the supply of fuel cell components, including hydrogen recirculation blowers and cathode flaps.

The orders are said to highlight the success the Dusseldorf-based company’s hydrogen strategy. Rheinmetall has been working to optimise the use of hydrogen for many years, supporting the shift to climate-friendly energy types.

The order for high-voltage hydrogen recirculation blowers is said to be valued in the multi-million euro range. Full-scale production will start in 2024. Additional orders from two fuel cell manufacturers for more than 300,000 cathode valves represent a deal value in the ‘two-digit million euros zone’. Production of the valves will commence in 2023 at Rheinmetall’s Berlin plant once it has been upgraded for volume production.

The hydrogen recirculation blower was developed with financial support from Germany’s Federal Transport Ministry and NOW, the National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology Organisation.

Blowers are installed on the anode side of the fuel cell, enhancing the potential for the hydrogen in the fuel cell. It enables the controlled return of unused hydrogen to the stack, resulting in improved efficiency and extending vehicle range. In addition, the blower can support homogenous distribution of hydrogen in the cell, leading to a longer operating life.

The cathode flaps regulate the flow of fresh and exhaust air mass streams and insulate the fuel cell stacks on the cathode side of the inlet and outlet points from the ambient atmosphere. Operating hours of up to 12,000 hours have been achieved, with very low leakage.

A new generation of flaps now in development are said to be capable of delivering a service life of ‘at least 30,000 hours’ in commercial vehicles, maritime and stationary applications.

Rheinmetall puts forward that the orders highlight the market potential for hydrogen components. The company is an industrial partner of the new Hydrogen Innovation and Technology Centre in Duisburg, Germany.

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