American Company Developing Fuel Cell Systems With Rheinmetall Tech

When the name Rheinmetall comes into focus, the first thing that springs to mind is defense. The German company is a major contractor in this industry, but that’s not its only area of expertise.
Electric cathode valve for fuel cells 1 photo
Photo: Rheinmetall
In a bid to get access to a slice of the alternative drive systems market of the automotive industry, the company has been working for a while on fuel cell technologies. For instance, at the beginning of the year, Daimler Truck Fuel Cell became a major client for Rheinmetall tech, going for the hydrogen recirculation blowers, two-digit million-euro worth of them.

This week, Rheinmetall announced it is developing cathode shut-off valves for fuel cell systems, together with its partner in this field, Pierburg.

Built to include “valves for fuel cells with an electric output of up to 200 kilowatts,” the new tech is said to have already captured the attention of an unnamed American company, which placed an order for “several hundred prototypes” of the cathode shut-off valve.

It’s unclear for now who will use the technology and for what application. Rheinmetall says it is now planning to get full-scale production orders from other customers as well, and that by the end of the year.

As for the shut-off valve, the hardware is used to isolate the fuel cell stack on the cathode side, at the inlet and outlet points, from the environment. Presently, the available systems allow for 12,000 hours of operating time, but the Germans are planning to bring that number to at least 20,000 operating hours for commercial vehicles and other stationary applications.

Fuel cell technology has been for a short while a very promising alternative to ICE cars. Somehow, with a few not that notable exceptions, carmakers steered their plans toward battery-powered EVs. Yet fuel cells still seem to have a bright future when it comes to cargo trucks and such.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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