PEM Supports Development of Long-Life Fuel Cell Systems

Graphic of the "Future Cluster Hydrogen" Copyright: © RWTH Aachen University

The chair "Production Engineering of E-Mobility Components" (PEM) of RWTH Aachen University has joined forces with numerous partners from research and industry in the "HyInnoPEM" project dealing with "proton exchange membrane" (PEM) fuel cell systems. It is part of the "Future Cluster Hydrogen" which unites numerous H2 projects along the entire value chain in order to establish a hydrogen model region. The aim of "HyInnoPEM", meanwhile, is to develop a robust control system for a highly dynamic PEM fuel cell system with a long service life – against the background that it has not yet been possible to introduce such systems on a broad scale in mobile applications.

High efficiency and dynamics without loss of lifetime

Despite numerous advantages over purely electric drives, the main reason for this is the higher system costs. However, experts expect PEM fuel cell systems to penetrate the market in the near future if costs, efficiency, dynamics and service life are investigated and optimized in parallel. While materials science and production engineering work closely together to optimize the individual components of the fuel cell stack and reduce its costs by upscaling production, it is the task of systems engineers and control engineers to operate the PEM fuel cell system at a high level of efficiency and dynamics without reducing its service life.

Mathematical models and subsequent maintenance strategies

With the help of investigations on the test benches of the research and industrial partners, mathematical models for the fuel cell stack and its auxiliary units are to be created and successively reduced for use in the control system. In addition to dynamic behavior, these models will also take degradation into account. Furthermore, condition monitoring and service life prediction will pave the way for predictive maintenance strategies.

Networking with other hydrogen projects

"HyInnoPEM" is intended to take the aging condition of a PEM fuel cell system into account in its control and thus improve competitiveness. Through close cooperation with the projects "HyInnoLyze" (electrolyzer), "HyInnoSep" (separation process), "HyInnoTank" (mobile hydrogen storage), "HyInnoCells" (production of electrochemical cells) and "Project HyInnoSys" (system and value chains), the entire life cycle of the PEM fuel cell system will be considered. The cooperation is intended to enable the transfer of the results obtained from ground-based transport to aviation, for example. New jobs are also to be created in the long term on the basis of the findings from research and industry.



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The project

  • "HyInnoPEM": Mobile drives with pioneering fuel cell systems condition monitoring and robust control taking degradation into account

Research objectives

  • Development of a robust control system for a highly dynamic PEM fuel cell system with simultaneous high durability
  • Creation of mathematical models for the fuel cell stack and its auxiliary units
  • Holistic cost analysis for the lifetime of the entire system
  • Condition monitoring and lifetime prediction for the development of predictive maintenance strategies

Research and project partners

PEM of RWTH Aachen University
Chair of Thermodynamics of Mobile Energy Conversion Systems (tme) (RWTH Aachen University)
Institute of Automatic Control (IRT) (RWTH Aachen University)
Institute of Jet Propulsion and Turbomachinery (IST) (RWTH Aachen University)
EKPO Fuel Cell Technologies GmbH
Pierburg GmbH
FEV Europe GmbH
Hilite Germany GmbH (associated partner)


  • 10/01/2021 through 09/30/2024

Project sponsor

Projektträger Jülich (PtJ)

Funding code

  • -/-


Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)