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INOCEL Fuel Cell Development: INOCEL Partners with IFPEN for its Test Campaign

INOCEL and IFP Energies nouvelles have concluded a strategic collaboration agreement for the development of the high-power fuel cell INOCEL Z300.

INOCEL, specialized in the development of high-power fuel cells, and IFP Energies Nouvelles (IFPEN), a major player in research and training in the fields of energy, transport and environment, have signed a strategic collaboration agreement to conduct a testing campaign for the development of the INOCEL Z300 fuel cell system.

High-power facilities for an innovative product

This collaboration represents a crucial milestone in the product’s development and industrialization. INOCEL will benefit from IFPEN’s expertise in guiding technological advancements related to ecological and energy transitions in mobility, accelerating the development of the INOCEL fuel cell.

The partnership will leverage both companies’ skills, expertise, and resources to carry out all necessary tests and studies on the INOCEL Z300 product.

 INOCEL will benefit from in-depth expertise on the entire system, from the stack to the DC/DC. IFPEN’s high-performance analysis tools will enable INOCEL to optimize its product’s performance for use on board vehicles.

taking on a technological challenge together

“We are determined to tackle all challenges that will maximize the performance and reliability of our fuel cell,” stated Marie-Laure Michaux, Technical Director at INOCEL.

Pierre Leduc, in charge of fuel cell developments for mobility at IFPEN, added, “Collaborating with INOCEL is an excellent opportunity to deploy our testing methods, modelling capabilities, and expertise in control and electronics for a highly promising technology. We aim to adapt INOCEL’s innovative product to the constraints of heavy-duty vehicle fuel cell usage, promoting the transition to electric motorization for energy-intensive machinery, less suited for exclusive battery operation.”

This collaboration aligns with a long-term partnership vision, enabling INOCEL and IFPEN to actively contribute to the promotion of clean energies for a more sustainable energy future.

How does a fuel cell work ?

how fuel cell works

Understanding a fuel cell might seem taunting at first, but at the end, it is just a question of chemistry. The fuel cell mechanism is easy: convert chemical energy into electrical energy.

To solve this equation, the fuel cell is composed of two components, the bipolar plate, a key component in PEM fuel cells which diffuse gases, and a membrane electrode assembly (MEA). This MEA made of multiple layers, is composed with an electrolyte membrane and assembled on one side with a catalyst layer of anode, a oxidizing electrode that releases electrons, and on the other with a catalyst layer of cathode, a reducing electrode that acquires electrons. Hydrogen is injected in the fuel cell on the anode side while oxygen (from air) is passed through the cathode. Once the hydrogen reaches the catalyst layer in the MEA, the hydrogen molecules split into electrons and protons.

An important thing to keep in mind before moving on to the next step, is that protons are positive electrical charged particles, while electrons are negative charges. All electrical charges collected on the bipolar plate represent the available electrical energy.

The membrane has the role of electrolyte in the cell and allows only  the protons to pass from the anode side to the cathode side. This means that the protons, once separated from their electron counterparts, are free to make their way through the membrane, while the electrons remain trapped on the anode side. For the atoms to be equalized, the meeting of both particles is crucial. The electrons are then forced through a different circuit to reconnect with the protons, and while these travel, the flow of electrons generates electricity and heat.

Once it reaches the cathode side, the electrons reconnect with the protons and with the injected oxygen producing water molecules (H2O) which are then ejected as waste from the fuel cell. This means that any type of machinery or transportation currently consuming gas to produce energy, could replace its combustion engine by a zero-emission, sustainable power source. A sign of hope for a decarbonized future.

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