Mussawar 'Maz' Ahmad has a Mechanical Engineering background and is currently working towards his PhD degree within the Automation Systems Group based at the International Manufacturing Centre, WMG. His research is focussed on utilising reconfigurable manufacturing system paradigms to assemble fuel cells.
Hydrogen fuel cells present an alternative solution to combustion powerpack technologies that meet the requirements placed upon industries that use them such as zero harmful emissions and high efficiency. However, despite their benefits fuel cells are not cost competitive in most applications, and beyond this suffer from durability, stability and reliability issues as compared to their combustion couterparts.
This reseach proposes that these performance issues are, in part, due to a lack of manufacturing expertise which impacts quality, yield and ultimately increases the product cost. More specifically, this research proposes that assembly of fuel cells is where many of the challenges exist and describes three main assembly processes (alignment, compressio and sealing) and how they link to fuel cell voltage losses (efficiency, mass transport and ohmic).
The focus of this research is to understand how changes to the product design, which are inevitable due to ever-changing customer requirements and technological developments, can be quickly and efficiently realised to de-risk the investment associated with designing and building a fuel cell assembly system. This raises the following questions: what does a typical fuel cell design look like? how should a fuel cell be assembled with considerations for performance requirements? what kind of changes can be expected? how do such changes impact the process and in turn the resource selection? how can these changes be realised quickly and efficiently to allow fuel cell manufacturers to more confidently introduce design changes?
A mockup of a PostNote (below) provides a quick overview about fuel cells. It briefly covers the state of technology and infrastructural challenges.
Disclaimer: The PostNOTE in the above link is a 'mock' version, designed to provide the reader with a quick understanding of automotive fuel cell technology. It is not in anyway approved by the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology.
mussawar dot ahmad at warwick dot ac dot uk
Tel: +44(0)2476 573413
Mob: +44 (0) 7972606479
Automation Systems Group
Room 368, International Manufacturing Centre
University of Warwick