The first demonstrator vehicle for a novel new hydrogen fuel cell technology is in development by Mahle Powertrain.

As integration partner to hydrogen fuel cell specialist, Bramble Energy, the company is helping to optimise the integration of its printed circuit board fuel cell (PCBFC) technology within the powertrain of a Renault Kangoo ZE. The vehicle, which will be unveiled in 2021, will showcase the reduced-cost, high performance potential of high power density liquid cooled fuel cells.

"Hydrogen is certainly a viable option for the light commercial vehicle sector," said Jonathan Hall, Mahle Powertrain's head of research & advanced engineering projects. "The CV sector is currently exploring alternative fuel options as several large fleet operators pledge to meet net-zero CO2 emission. PCBFC technology provides a high power density solution that is perfectly suited to typical commercial vehicle duty cycles. In addition, we hope accelerated development of fuel cell technologies will have the knock-on effect of inspiring increased deployment of supporting infrastructure for areas where it is currently lacking."

The integration project leverages high volume printed circuit board manufacturing techniques to reduce cost and ease of production scalability.

Utilisation of PCB technology enables Bramble Energy to offer a bespoke fuel cell capability and enhanced production flexibility, plus a robustness inherent in the printed circuit board manufacturing process. It also enables the company to strip-back fuel cell complexity and reduce weight, negating the need for separate sealing materials and lowering the number of components without negatively impacting build quality or performance.