“The Turning Point Is on Its Way!”

A fuel cell only emits pure water vapor and is an attractive option for vehicle powertrains. A breakthrough was heralded some time ago, yet everyone is still waiting for it. Why Freudenberg Sealing Technologies is still betting on fuel cells – now more than ever.

A fuel cell – let me think…is it one of those ideas, an “innovation,” that has been hanging around for what seems like an eternity? But its breakthrough keeps retreating into the future? Something like the refrigerator that shops for you — which we have been promised for years? Yes and no. In fact, fuel cells have been around for a relatively long time. The first automakers started experimenting with the idea in the 1990s. “The assertion that the technology would be ready for series production in a couple years dates back to that time,” said Nils Martens, Senior Vice President Battery and Fuel Cell Systems Division at Freudenberg Sealing Technologies. “Nothing came of it.” The technical challenges were too great.

 

Fuel Cell - Drive of the Future: Interview with Rainer Joest

Car manufacturers experimented with the fuel cell already back in the 1990s. They discovered that the "drive of the future" turned out to be more complex than initially assumed. Since then, the public discussion has become rather quiet. Freudenberg, however, started research on all aspects of drive early on and stayed on the ball - which is why the company today possesses comprehensive know-how in various technological questions relating to the fuel cell drive’s development. Rainer Joest, President Automotive Sales, explains in our interview why the fuel cell poses such a complex challenge.

The fuel cell as a versatile technology - Interview with Nils Martens

The fuel cell is still waiting for its breakthrough in the propulsion technology. As a vehicle drive, it represents an attractive and environmentally friendly alternative to the combustion engine. But there is even more potential for fuel cells besides the automotive industry.

Nils Martens, Senior Vice President Battery and Fuel Cell Systems Division at Freudenberg Sealing Technologies, talks about other possible fields of application.

 

Interview with Rainer Joest, President Automotive Sales at Freudenberg Sealing Technologies

But Freudenberg was one of the players that moved directly into research and development at the time – and stuck with the concept. “We have been developing it for nearly 20 years, partly in cooperation with academic partners,” said Rainer Joest, President Automotive Sales. The technology’s advantages are still very plausible. Fuel cell vehicles run emission-free and they can be fueled very quickly. They don’t have the problems with range that electric cars have. Fuel cells are especially attractive for the heavyweights: trucks, buses and even ships. After all, their electric versions would have to haul around giant batteries due to the vehicles’ size. But fuel cells cannot play out their advantages if there aren’t enough hydrogen filling stations.

Interview with Nils Martens, Senior Vice President Battery and Fuel Cell Systems Division at Freudenberg Sealing Technologies

But the two Freudenberg experts are convinced that things are going tochange – even if the design of a fuel cell is highly complex, the demands on the right materials are enormous, and the vehicle makers are still tinkering with their concepts. With their collective experience and expertise, companies like Freudenberg are already highlighting the way forward. “We have developed special, made-to-order materials,” Joest said. Over the next few years, Freudenberg intends to target niches such as buses, ships and rail vehicles for tests and further development so it will be ready when the automakers are. “The turning point is on its way,” Martens said.

Read the complete interview in Essential.


Further articles with these taggings

Three, Please — with Everything!

31.03.2020

Electric cars need green electricity. Fuel cell vehicles need hydrogen. Neither is available in abundance. And now internal combustion engines are expected to run on synthetic fuels. Is all this going to pay off? An essay.

Read more

E-Mobility

Before the Long Slumber

24.03.2020

The question remained unanswered over the first quarter century of the auto industry: Which powertrain system would prevail? But then innovation, an oil boom and an automotive pioneer sped up the decision-making process.

Read more

E-Mobility

The Battery That Breaths

10.03.2020

Batteries for electric cars require both pressure compensation during normal operation and emergency ventilation. Freudenberg Sealing Technologies’ DIAvent component combines these two functions in a single, advanced design. Now this solution will help make the batteries installed in the ABT e-line e-Caddy and ABT e-line e-Transporter, two small Volkswagen cargo vans that are popular in Europe and Mexico, more reliable and safe.

Read more

Automotive E-Mobility

Freudenberg Joins New Partnership to Support Emission-Free Mobility in the U.S.

26.11.2019

XALT Energy, a company of Freudenberg Sealing Technologies, is proud to announce it is powering America’s first, long-distance, all-electric passenger coach in tests with private and public transportation providers in the United States.

Read more

E-Mobility Alternative Drives

Into Orbit with Plastics

15.10.2019

Plastics surround us in our daily life, but they have some unexpected attributes. For example, they can be used as a fuel to send rockets into space.

Read more

New Work

Technologies for the Mobility of the Future

26.09.2019

Freudenberg Sealing Technologies has been working on sustainable mobility solutions for quite some time. A tour of the “Fuel Cell” Innovation Center in Munich shows proof.

Read more

Sustainability E-Mobility

Vertical Integration Ensures Premium Quality

17.09.2019

On the occasion of the Frankfurt Motor Show IAA 2019, Claus Möhlenkamp, CEO of Freudenberg Sealing Technologies, speaks about the varying speeds of electric-mobility’s advance, what long-distance buses and cruise ships have in common, and why the company, a component supplier, is getting into the systems business with lithium-ion batteries and fuel cells.

Read more

Automotive Alternative Drives

Fuel Cells for Long-Distance Bus Transport

02.09.2019

FlixBus and Freudenberg Sealing Technologies are collaborating on a future-oriented project for sustainable, CO2-free mobility. Together, Europe's largest operator of long-distance bus travel, the FlixBus brand, and global technology specialist Freudenberg Sealing Technologies are working to put fuel cell-powered coaches on the road.

Read more

E-Mobility Fuel Cell

On the Line

11.06.2019

The volume of truck transportation is growing. One alternative to diesel engines would involve equipping freeways with overhead lines. A field test on the A5 in Germany could show whether the approach will work in practice.

Read more

Automotive Alternative Drives

Our Magazine

Sealing know-how delivered free to your door.

Order Now!