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let’s dev Blog | Production and assembly of stacks and electro­lysers for hydrogen production
by Anton
21. Dezember 2021

Production and assembly of stacks and electro­lysers for hydrogen production

The following article reports on let's dev's research activities launched this year as part of the "Manufacturing and Robotics" (FertiRob) funding project. It will run for four years and is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research as part of the Basic Energy Research funding measure as a sub-project of the flagship project H2Giga - Technology Development for Water Electrolysis on a Gigawatt Scale.

FUNDING INITIATIVE

The lead project H2Giga is developing possibilities for the series production of water electrolysers in order to make the production of green Hydrogen competitive and to minimize production errors. Concrete information about H2Giga can be found on the official H2Giga homepage and via the explanatory video.

CONSORTIUM

The consortium of the project FertiRob under the leadership of Ruhr-University Bochum consisted of the following partners:

PRESENTATION OF THE PROJECT

Within the scope of the project, automation solutions are to be developed for the various sub-problems in the manufacture, assembly and disassembly of stacks and electrolyzers. To enable efficient and flexible applicability and to guarantee easy scalability, a modular automation system is to be developed. The specification for an electrolyzer is to be recorded via an assistant. A digital product twin will be derived from this specification. Using the modularization concept, a digital plant twin including all necessary control programs will be derived from the product twin and automatically transferred to a virtual commissioning. After the corresponding commissioning, the twin is operated in parallel and used in the context of quality assurance, among other things.

To enable efficient and flexible applicability and to guarantee easy scalability, a modular automation system is to be developed. The following sub-goals will be pursued:

DEVELOPMENT OF CONCRETE AUTOMATION SOLUTIONS FOR TECHNICAL PROBLEMS

The development of partial automation solutions for all process steps in stack and electrolyzer production is intended to significantly reduce cycle times compared to manual production. The main focus is on the development of innovative solutions for currently unsolved problems.

MODULA­RIZATION AND SCALABILITY OF PRODUCTION PLANTS

For simpler plant planning and, above all, better scalability in later operation, the automation solutions are to be modularized and constructed with standardized interfaces. The development of a set of rules for combination and configuration is to form the basis for automatic and thus faster plant engineering. The focus is also on automatic layout planning and generation of conveyor concepts for the integration of the production modules.

AUTOMATIC PLANT ENGI­NEERING BASED ON PRODUCT BOUNDARY CONDITIONS

In order to drastically reduce the effort and time required for the planning and implementation of production plants for stacks and electrolysers, a planning procedure is to be developed and production modules can be automatically selected, parameterized and linked on the basis of product boundary conditions (dimensions, weight, design, material, etc.). Methods are to be developed, such as control programs or individual components, such as adapter flanges or gripper fingers, which can be generated automatically.

CONTINUOUS VIRTUAL AND REAL QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DOCUMEN­TATION

A continuous virtual and real quality assurance for the estimation of product qualities in the plant planning process and an automatic quality documentation with the help of the digital product twinning will be developed. At the same time, methods for autonomous error detection and handling in the production process are to be developed for higher process stability.

DEVELOPMENT AND USE OF THE DIGITAL TWIN OF PRODUCT AND PLANT

In order to achieve a faster plant planning process with a higher process quality, the digital product twin and digital plant twin are to be used. The focus is on the development of neutral and standardized data structures, as well as operating concepts for transferring the twins from the planning phase to the operating phase of the production plants.

WHAT IS ELECTROLYSIS?

Electrolysis refers to a chemical reaction in which a starting material is split into higher-value energetic (i.e., chemically more valuable) building blocks with the help of electric current. For example, the electrolysis of water yields hydrogen as an energy carrier in addition to oxygen.

FERTIROB CONTRIBUTION TO THE GOALS OF THE H2GIGA LEAD PROJECT

By automating complex manual process steps, the results of the FertiRob project increase productivity in the production and assembly of electrolyzers. The automation solutions developed are expected to achieve an average reduction in cycle time of 50% compared with manual production. Due to the modularization concept, there is a high transferability of individual solutions to other subprojects, which makes a significant contribution to the overall objectives. As a result, this group of innovative automation solutions effectively contributes to the implementation of serial production of electrolyzers.

The development of automated plant planning and configuration for the production of electrolyzers reduces the large amount of work currently required and thus leads to faster implementation and dissemination of automated production plants for electrolyzer manufacturing. The time required for engineering a production plant is expected to be reduced by an average of 60%. By making it faster and easier to implement automated production facilities for electrolyzers, the collaborative effort contributes to H2Giga's goals for faster scaling of hydrogen production.

Stay tuned!

The project website https://fertirob.de provides continuous information about the progress of the project. We kindly invite you to visit the site regularly.

Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung
Wasserstoff Leitprojekte

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