Proton exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMFC) stacks and their components are currently being manufactured using laboratory fabrication methods. While in recent years these methods have been scaled up in size, they do not incorporate high-volume manufacturing methods. In this context, manufacturing R&D is necessary to prepare advanced manufacturing and assembly technologies that are required for low-cost, high-volume fuel cell power plant production. U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has identified high-priority manufacturing R&D needs for PEMFCs. Along with efforts to develop technologies for high-speed manufacturing of fuel cell components, DOE identified the need for demonstrating automated assembly processes for fuel cell stacks. The scope of this chapter is to review current manufacturing R&D efforts in the area of automated processes for assembling PEMFC stacks, to present the current state of development, successful demonstrations, related technological challenges and the technical solutions used to overcome them. An emphasis of this review is on the design of tools used for robotic grasping, handling and inserting fuel cell components in the stack and on the use of design for manufacture and assembly (DFMA) strategies that enable the automated assembly process.
Part of the book: Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell