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The engineering plastic Ultramid has successfully been used to manufacture a number of fuel cell system components.
The engineering plastic Ultramid has successfully been used to manufacture a number of fuel cell system components.

BASF, in close cooperation with Joma-Polytec and Mercedes-Benz Fuel Cell, a subsidiary of Daimler AG, has successfully used the engineering plastic Ultramid to manufacture a number of fuel cell system components.

This innovative solution is being used as standard in the new Mercedes GLC F-CELL, which combines a fuel cell with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. 

The high quality and safety requirements in the automotive industry place huge demands on materials. With versatile and sophisticated polyamides (Ultramid), polybutylene terephthalates (Ultradur), polyphthalamides (PPA), and the plastics polyoxymethylene (Ultraform) and polyethersulfone (Ultrason), BASF is able to keep pace with car manufacturers’ latest developments, while also setting innovative trends.

For the Mercedes GLC F-Cell, it is the all-round excellence of Ultramid’s properties that counts: good thermal and chemical resistance, dynamic stiffness, impact strength, and good long-term performance.

“Earlier tests with other materials revealed mechanical problems, so Daimler had very specific requirements for the material,” explained Stefan Milimonka, Key Account Manager in BASF’s Performance Materials division.

“Our expertise with plastic automotive components and the extensive choice of existing products meant that we were able to work out possible solutions with our partners and identify the right material. It shows that with specialist knowledge and good cooperation between everyone involved, a complex project like this can be brought to a successful conclusion,” Milimonka continued.

In view of the unique material structure, and on the basis of intensive material analyses of the chemical and mechanical resistance, the three partners ultimately decided on the tailor-made Ultramid grades A3WG10 CR and A3EG7 EQ.

Following successful testing of all components, the two glass fiber-reinforced Ultramid grades are now being used as standard to manufacture the anode- and cathode-end plate in fuel cells. Ultramid A3EG7 EQ is an ideal material, given the exceptional purity requirements associated with sensitive applications in the electronics industry.

In the case of the media distribution plate and the water separator unit, which is exposed to a wide variety of media through the cooling water, air and hydrogen channel, this Ultramid grade offers excellent resistance, while at the same time meeting all requirements regarding the purity of the material.

Thanks to BASF’s extensive product portfolio and the specialist knowledge of all the parties involved, we have taken an important step forward in the serial development of fuel cells,” Stefan Heinz, deputy head of plastics technology development at Joma-Polytec GmbH, summed up the project.

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