Revolve Technologies said it has successfully developed a fuel-cell technology using printed circuit board (PCB) construction, claiming it's the first time that a PCB-based fuel cell has been developed for use in an automotive environment. Compared with conventional systems, the PCB fuel-cell stack is designed to drastically reduce system costs, deliver reduced weight for a given power output, and provide a more flexible form factor.

Revolve says that the 5 kW PCB fuel cell uses cost-effective production methods and materials from the PCB industry to reduce the cost and complexity of manufacturing proton exchange membrane fuel cells.

With the PCBFC fitted, an additional range of around 80 miles can be expected on a NEDC cycle with 1.7 kg of hydrogen on board, and by fitting additional hydrogen storage capacity, the range can be further extended.

A Renault Kangoo ZE van with a PCB fuel-cell range extender was displayed at the Cenex Low Carbon Vehicle Event at the Millbrook Proving Ground this week. On the demonstration model, the fuel cell, along with the control system and electronics, is integrated on the vehicle roof under a covered enclosure. The hydrogen storage tank is currently in the loading bay, although a future development could see the tank relocated to the roof.

The fuel-cell range extender module is designed as an aftermarket kit for all commercial pure EVs. The technology can reportedly also be adopted by OEMs in other pure EV segments.

Revolve Technologies worked with its partners on the project and carried out the system integration, benchmarking, and testing at its headquarters in Brentwood. Bramble Energy was responsible for fuel-cell development and manufacture; UCL provided fuel-cell testing and manufacturing support; STI performed the electronics development and manufacturing consultancy; and HSSMI worked on manufacturing upscaling. 

The PCB fuel-cell vehicle integration project is part of the Innovate UK funded project.

“This project met all our expectations,” said Paul Turner, Engineering Director at Revolve Technologies. “We were delighted to be able to show this exciting outcome at the LCV Show, and we received a very enthusiastic reception.”