Mahle Powertrain and Bramble Energy have agreed to continue their collaboration to develop Bramble’s PCBFC hydrogen fuel cell technology.

The phase 1 demonstrator vehicle was launched at the Cenex Low Carbon Vehicle show.

“Hydrogen fuel cells offer an alternative to the heavy batteries and long recharge times that other electric vehicle technologies suffer from and that makes them particularly relevant to the commercial vehicle sector as it looks to meet net zero CO2 emissions targets,” said Mahle Powertrain head of research & advanced engineering, Mike Bassett.

“Our work with Bramble Energy has demonstrated their PCBFC technology represents a cost-effective route to the adoption of fuel cell propulsion for commercial vehicles.”

Hydrogen fuel cells generate electricity using an electromechanical reaction rather than the combustion of a traditional engine. This not only eliminates harmful emissions, but is silent in operation with no moving parts and produces only heat and water as by-products.

While conventional fuel cell stacks rely on stamped plates to hold the various layers, Bramble Energy’s approach leverages PCB manufacturing technology, which can be produced cheaply, in virtually any shape using flexible production techniques.

Mahle Powertrain was chosen as the project’s integration partner due to its decade-long experience in powertrain technology integration and its work in EV control systems and thermal management.

Its recent Memorandum of Understanding with Bramble strengthens the companies’ relationship ahead of the development of the phase 2 demonstrator.

The phase 1 results of the collaboration are based around a Renault Kangoo ZE delivery vehicle that sees a 5 kW Bramble Energy fuel cell integrated into the powertrain acting as a range extender. Future development will focus on creating a derivative with a higher power output and increased overall efficiency.

“Mahle Powertrain’s skills and expertise have enabled us to showcase the benefits of our PCBFC technology in a practical way,” added Bramble Energy CEO and CTO, Tom Mason.

“The technical partnership between our two companies will help us accelerate our development and move towards small scale production.”