Sun Industry, with support from the government, is applying its high level of stamping and plating technology to the development of separators for fuel cells. Using titanium, which is notoriously difficult to process, Sun has succeeded in creating separators with low cost, yet long life.
Separators are conductive plates that divide a fuel cell stack into individual cells, and serve as a barrier to hydrogen gas or air. Ordinary devices use resin separators, and are expensive and prone to mechanical damage. In addition to overcoming these disadvantages, metal is also in demand for metal separators as a means to improve generation efficiency.
"Materials like titanium are extremely difficult to plate, and require preprocessing before plating. The metal has to go through a huge number of complicated processes. At Sun Industry, we’ve used our proprietary know-how to reduce this preprocessing time to just a few minutes. We think this is our big advantage over other companies."
"This unit here, which was a product of joint development, was designed as a fuel cell for home use. In the future, we’d like to reduce the size somewhat for use in automotive applications. There are about 100 of our plated separators in this stack. Because large numbers of separators are used, we think this could lead to big business for us."
While keeping an eye on changes in the fuel cell market, Sun Indusstry is making technical proposals to a variety of manufacturers, with its main targets being first automobile makers, and second fuel cell makers.