[Preston, United Kingdom , crocon media , msch , June 12 , 2023] — Ballard Power Systems, a leading provider of zero-emission PEM fuel cells, has unveiled its ambitious plan to significantly reduce costs and expand production capacity for next-generation graphite bipolar plates. This strategic move includes the introduction of disruptive manufacturing technology that aims to revolutionize the fuel cell industry.
The announcement comes as a natural progression following Ballard’s successful completion of two critical milestones: the development of thin flexible graphite bipolar plates and the expansion of its membrane electrode assembly (MEA) manufacturing capacity in Canada. As part of Ballard’s ongoing “3 by 3” stack cost reduction program, this project focuses on addressing the substantial cost associated with bipolar plates, which is the second-largest expense after MEAs in a fuel cell stack.
By implementing advanced plate manufacturing processes and incorporating new, lower-cost material suppliers, Ballard anticipates cost savings of up to 70%. These savings are expected to be realized following the commissioning of the project, which is slated for late 2025.
Ballard’s next-generation thin flexible graphite bipolar plates are designed to significantly reduce material usage while enabling high power density stacks. This feature is particularly critical for heavy-duty mobility applications where durability, reusability, and power density are paramount. Furthermore, graphite bipolar plates offer the added benefit of being the most cost-effective option at current and scaled volumes.
Beyond the cost savings associated with this project, Ballard’s plate manufacturing capacity is expected to increase approximately tenfold. This growth will be accompanied by improvements in graphite and resin material yield, as well as reduced production time. The company has also developed innovative manufacturing processes that enable full automation of bipolar plate production, resulting in enhanced quality throughput, reduced energy consumption, and the elimination of water usage. These advancements are poised to be replicated in any future expansion of Ballard’s global bipolar plate production footprint.
Mark Biznek, Chief Operating Officer of Ballard, expressed enthusiasm about the project, highlighting the economic and environmental value it brings. In addition to reducing costs and improving customer economics, the project aligns with Ballard’s commitment to sustainable practices by significantly reducing energy, water, and material resources.
Lee Sweetland, Vice President of Transformational Projects, emphasized the positive impact of the company’s previous cost reduction efforts and their contribution to the development of flexible graphite technology. By investing further in next-gen manufacturing processes, Ballard anticipates an additional 70% cost reduction for its proprietary bipolar plates, aligning with the US Department of Energy’s target of $5/kW for the bipolar plate.
Ballard plans to invest approximately $18 million in bipolar plate manufacturing from 2023 through 2025. The expected spending for this project in 2023 was already accounted for in Ballard’s capital allocation plan and does not affect the company’s planned capital expenditure for the year.
As a leader in fuel cell technology, Ballard Power Systems continues to drive innovation and sustainability in the industry. With its cost reduction plan and disruptive manufacturing technology, the company is poised to strengthen its position in the market and advance the adoption of fuel cells for a more sustainable future.
Note: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as financial advice. Please conduct thorough research and consult with a professional before making any investment decisions.
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