(DE/ENG) Multiphysical optimization of a fuel cell end plate

Betreuer/in:            Tim Röver           
Dekanat/Institut:   iLAS T-2           

E-Mail:   tim.roever@tuhh.de

(DE/ENG) Multiphysical optimization of a fuel cell end plate


Background and motivation

Hydrogen as an energy carrier is attributed considerable importance in reduction of carbon dioxide emissions worldwide and transformation of the current economy to a low-carbon one. Production, storage, transportation and application of hydrogen are the key steps in the life cycles of hydrogen. It is desirable to increase the efficiency in any of these steps as well as enhance functionality of the systems. Fuel cells are used in mobile and stationary applications to convert the chemical energy of hydrogen into electrical energy. Different types of fuel cells are known, of which one common approach is Proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFC). A PEMFC is usually a stack design, consisting of alternating layers of bipolar plates and polymer electrolyte membranes (PEM) which are pressed together by two end plates. Efficiency of such a PEMFC stack design is i.a. depending on the contact between the layers. The contact pressure in each cell should be ideally equal and uniformly distributed over the area. Furthermore, some PEMFC stacks use cartridge heaters to heat up first and last layer of the stack to improve conditioning and, therefore, improve performance of the overall stack. Additionally, mass of the end plates is to be reduced as much as possible considering mobile applications of fuel cells.

Additive manufacturing (AM) offers great potential for the simple and direct production of complex and functional components made of polymers and metals. Due to the freedom of design, AM offers great innovation potential compared to conventional processes. In many cases, component designs that exploit the possibilities of AM show higher technical performance or functionality compared to components manufactured by conventional processes. AM therefore also offers the potential to manufacture re-designed and optimized fuel cell components.

The objective of this Master thesis is multiphysical optimization of the end plate of a PEMFC. Optimization goals are the homogeneity of the pressure distribution which is transferred from the end plate to the cell, low weight of the end plate and efficient heat transfer from cartridge heaters to first and last layers of the stacks. The optimization result shall be transferred to an end plate design that is manufacturable using laser powder bed fusion (L-PBF) as the AM technology.

Contents of the thesis

  • Research on state of the art of science and technology
  • Set-up and execution of a multiphysical 3D topology optimizations for the end plate
  • Development of an optimized PEMFC end plate
  • Valdiation by means of FEM analyses
  • Additive manufacturing
  • Experimental characterization of new end plate design
  • Documentation of results (in either English or German)


What we expect from you

  • Ongoing studies in a relevant discipline (product development, theoretical mechanical engineering, energy systems, mechanical engineering, production engineering, computing in science, computational methods in mechanical engineering, etc.)
  • Strong communication skills, reliability and an independent and structured way of working
  • Ideally, you will have experience in the fields of hydrogen technologies, pressure containers, and/or additive manufacturing


If you have questions about the offer or want to apply for the position contact:

M.Sc. Tim Röver

Email: tim.roever@tuhh.de

Phone: +49 40 484010-785


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