Cellcentric, the 50:50 fuel cell joint venture between Daimler Truck and Volvo Group, and technology supplier Mahle have signed a letter of intent to cooperate on fuel cell technology for heavy duty commercial vehicles as well as for unspecified “other applications with comparable requirements”.

The cooperation will focus on the development and series production of a system component known as a flat membrane humidifier which improves the durability of the fuel cell and prolongs service life. The humidifier will be used both in fuel cell systems for commercial vehicles and in stationary systems, such as emergency power generators.

“Cellcentric [intends] to become a world leading manufacturer of fuel cells. Our fuel cell is explicitly designed for use in heavy trucks. Accordingly, it meets the high quality requirements of the automotive industry and the relevant standards. With Mahle, we have a partner which has decades of experience as an automotive supplier as well as broad expertise in fuel cell peripherals,” said CEO Matthias Jurytko.

Martin Wellhoeffer, sales and application engineering head at Mahle, added: “The agreement… represents a valuable step towards a joint strategic future in the development of zero emission powertrains.”

The humidifier plays a support role in a fuel cell system. In order to work as effectively and efficiently as possible, fuel cells must be supplied with sufficient fresh air and humidity. To ensure the correct moisture content in the fuel cell, conventional humidifiers use small hollow membrane fibres. Mahle instead uses very thin membranes that are stacked in layers in the humidifier, thereby ensuring effective humidification of the fuel cells. The higher the humidity in the fuel cell, the more efficiently it works and the longer its service life.