In a joint project funded by the Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport, KontiBIP (continuous manufacture of bipolar plates; German: kontinuierliche Fertigung von Bipolarplatten), a consortium of seven partners led by the Fraunhofer IWU is developing a tooling and automation concept for the mass production of high-precision metallic bipolar plates.
The project partners will look at the entire forming manufacturing chain, from the steel coil to quality assurance. Bipolar plates consist of an anode plate and a cathode plate, each with a sheet thickness of max. 0.10mm. Both half plates must be joined in a medium-tight manner so that no coolant or process gases (hydrogen and oxygen) can leak out. The forming of the half plates in the project is based on the hollow stamping process. It will be implemented in a multi-phase cutting and forming die on a tryout press. An appropriate automation concept will ensure rapid component transport. Through the integration of an intelligent measuring and inspection system, all crucial quality features will be recorded based on an online measurement and evaluated by means of suitable algorithms, in order to recognise defective patterns early on and eliminate them where necessary.
In addition to reducing production costs, the project partners also aim to substantially increase the production speed to 60 bipolar plates per minute. Fraunhofer IWU is the consortium leader, and the other project partners are Albert Schmutzler Schnitt- und Stanzwerkzeuge, AUTEZ GmbH, a.i.m. all in metal GmbH, KMS Technology Center GmbH, LSA GmbH and BERND FLACH Präzisionstechnik GmbH & Co.KG as associated partners. The Konti-BIP project is funded under the National Innovation Programme for Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology with a total of around 3.2 million euros by the Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport. The funding guideline is coordinated by the NOW GmbH and implemented by Project Management Jülich (PtJ).