Bosch will work with Powercell Sweden to PEM fuel cells
Bosch is entering the market for mobile fuel cells and paving the way for the breakthrough of this technology in trucks and cars.
One crucial component is the stack – the core of the fuel cell where hydrogen is converted into electrical energy. To further improve and manufacture these stacks, Bosch has now formed an alliance with Powercell Sweden AB, the Swedish manufacturer of fuel-cell stacks.
Under the agreement, the two partners will work jointly to make the polymer-electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cell ready for production. Bosch will then manufacture this technology under licence for the global automotive market.
The stack will complement the Bosch portfolio of fuel-cell components, and is to be launched in 2022 at the latest.
“In the fuel cell domain, Bosch already has a strong hand, and the alliance with Powercell makes it even stronger. Commercialising technology is one of our strengths. We are now going to take on this task with determination and develop this market,” says member of the Bosch board of management and chairman of the mobility solutions business sector Dr. Stefan Hartung.
Over the long term, the mobile fuel cell business is potentially worth billions of euros for Bosch. It estimates that as much as 20% of all electric vehicles worldwide will be powered by fuel cells by 2030. “With the combined weight of its clout and expertise, Bosch will provide our fuel-cell technology with the chance to gain a foothold in the automotive market. We couldn’t imagine a better partner than Bosch for this,” says Powercell CEO Per Wassén.
Bosch believes the best opportunities for broad adoption of fuel-cell technology are in the commercial-vehicle market. The EU’s fleet requirements for trucks call for a reduction of CO2 emissions by 15% on average by 2025, and 30% by 2030.
Bosch’s view is that this target can only be reached by electrifying more and more of the powertrain. The fuel cell can play a decisive role here. Once they have become established in trucks, Bosch fuel-cell powertrains will then increasingly find their way into passenger cars.
But for this to happen, the cost of fuel cell systems needs to be progressively reduced. The biggest cost item is the stack. It accounts for nearly two-thirds of the total cost of a fuel-cell system.
“Through commercialisation and widespread marketing of this technology, Bosch will achieve economies of scale and push down costs,” Hartung says.
Costs also have to fall when it comes to hydrogen. Currently, this fuel is mainly produced for industrial applications, at a kilogram price that frequently exceeds five euros. As production grows, the price should fall. One kilogram of hydrogen contains as much energy as about three litres of diesel. For 100 km, a modern 40-tonne truck requires seven to eight kilograms of hydrogen.