Mahle Claims Advance in Fuel Cell Cooling

Mahle says it has developed a ceramic coating for hydrogen fuel cell coolers that claims to greatly extend the service life of units.

The company says the internal coating combines maximum operational safety with high cooling performance. It does not require heavy metals or other environmentally harmful chemicals.

Its new coating is a very thin ceramic skin on the internal aluminum surface of the cooler. It ensures that the coolant remains free of damaging ions and, thus, maintains its nonconductive characteristics over the long term. For the design of operationally safe cooling circuits for fuel cells, the coolant used must be nonconductive because it makes contact with current-carrying components inside in the fuel cell. Conductive coolant would produce leakage currents.

The system uses deionized, high-purity water with additives. If this fluid were to make contact with the aluminum surface of the cooler, it would pick up traces of the material and become electrically conductive again. The new coating prevents this from happening while not interfering with the transfer of heat within the component.

Mahle has been a series supplier of components for fuel cell vehicles for more than ten years and operates a hydrogen test center spanning 1,400 square meters in Stuttgart. As a member of the Hydrogen Council, it also campaigns at political level for the promotion of hydrogen technology.

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in Europe. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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