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Hjerno focusses on fuel cells

Fuel cells that can convert hydrogen, methanol and other substances into electricity in an electrochemical process are a promising technology in many processes in the industry and in the transport sector. Recently, the BMW car manufacturing company has released new information about the hybrid car that is being developed in collaboration with Toyota, and whose propellant is a combination of fuel cells and electric battery.

At Hjerno Tool Factory - where we have previously solved tasks within fuel cell production and are continuing to do this - we see such great potential in the technology that we are now investing additional resources in becoming a definite competency centre in the production of fuel cells.

“We have documented experience in the technology, and we have already built up some know-how in the field. We want to be part of the development in fuel cell production and we are therefore further expanding the area,” says Managing Director Aage Agergaard.

Intension to associate scientists

The ambition is, among other things, to associate a research group with insight into the chemical and physical process that takes place inside the cell. To that end, Hjerno has at present sent a number of applications to various funds. Danish manufacturer IRD Fuel Cells has been brought in as co-applicator.

“Becoming experts in a relatively new world such as fuel cells is not immediately straightforward, but we see great synergies in bringing our know-how about milling very complex geometries to anodes and cathodes into the fuel cell production, as we can thereby produce more efficient fuel cells,” Aage Agergaard explains.

“But to create more efficient geometries, we need to be experts in the entire technology and not just experts in high precision milling. In this way, we can evolve from producer to consultant, which is the ambition of all the tasks we take on,” he adds.

One month of continuous milling

Hjerno’s primary line of occupation is the manufacture of high-precision injection moulding tools for the plastics industry. Over a number of years, we have employed a wealth of specialists with competencies in everything from sample design, analysis and moulding tools with ultra-short cooling time to the actual plastic manufacture.

It is also the specialist knowledge that has been brought into play in the tasks we have solved for the fuel cell industry. During several years, we have manufactured a series of ultra-precise anodes and cathodes for both Danish and foreign customers. It is a special kind of large, hardened mould sheets used for the production of fuel cells for the transport sector.

These are mould sheets that require an unprecedented precision in micro milling, where a milling operation can take up to a full month of continuous milling on just one mould sheet with milling machines down to 0.1-0.6 mm. 

At the same time, the tolerances are down to 3 microns, which is at the limit of what both machines and measuring equipment can actually cope. But beyond this challenge, not even the smallest milling track must be left behind. And if just one single milling error occurs during the milling period, there is a high risk that the mould sheet is ruined.

Read more here about how Hjerno's experts solved this task.