Belleville spring stack solution used in PEM fuel cell application
Fuel cells are a clean, energy-efficient alternative to combustion-based technologies used in power generation and storage applications. Converting hydrogen to electrical or thermal power via Polymer Electrolyte Membrane (PEM) fuel cells and using that energy to power vehicles or for distributed generation may replace most conventional internal combustion engines in the future. The United States Department of Energy is making significant investments to fund clean hydrogen technologies in the effort to achieve a net-zero carbon emissions by the year 2050. Hydrogen is a clean fuel that, when consumed in a fuel cell, emits only water vapor ad warm air. With zero carbon dioxide emissions, fuel cells offer a clean and safe option to address climate challenges now and into the future.
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Hydrogen Fuel Cell Washer Design Considerations

PEMs use hydrogen fuel and oxygen from the air to produce electricity. The Membrane Electrode Assembly (MEA) is an assembled stack of PEM, a catalytic layer, and a Gas Diffusion Layer (GDL) that separates bipolar plates and gasket layers to produce a desired electrical output. The entire stack is commonly loaded with tie rods/studs for optimal clamping pressure.
There are many spring designs and stacking arrangements that can be used for a fuel cell application. Our engineering team can help design the most cost-effective Belleville spring stack solution to meet your requirements.

Hydrogen Fuel Cell Clamping Pressure Factors

Clamping force/pressure, or tightening torque, has an impact on the performance of PEM fuel cells and can be impacted by several factors, including: 
  • Insufficient clamping force may result in leakage of the assembly.
  • Reduced clamping force results in increased contact resistance between the GDL and the bipolar plates and this reduces cell performance.
  • Excessive clamping force may reduce porosity of the GDL and reduce the flow of gas and liquid that can compromise cell performance.
  • Excessive clamping force may mechanically damage components of the cell. 
In addition, the elastomer seals that are used in the fuel cell stack tend to relax or degrade over time and exposure to temperature, which can eventually reduce the cell performance. 

Solon Belleville Spring & Washer Advantages

Solon Belleville Springs can be assembled onto tie rods to maintain optimal pressure on the fuel cell to not only prevent failures in the form of leaks or damage, but they can also improve the overall performance of the fuel cell. There are many spring designs and stacking arrangements that can be used for a fuel cell application. Our engineering team can help design the most cost-effective Belleville spring stack solution to meet your requirements.
Additional benefits of Solon Belleville springs & washers include:
  • Reduce bolted joint failures
  • Maintain bolt preload under normal conditions
  • High spring force with small deflections
  • Absorbs shock and compensates for vibration
  • Predictable load-deflection curves where straight, progressive or regressive characteristics are required
  • No deformation or fatigue under normal conditions 

Solon Washers For Fuel Cell Stacks

With industry-standard and exotic material options, Solon Manufacturing provides a washer solution for every requirement. Additionally, Solon Manufacturing Co. is proud to contribute to the renewable energy industry by manufacturing valves and flanges for hydrogen technologies and similar industries dedicated to reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Our spring and washer products are designed to optimize the performance of your fuel cell stacks while contributing to sustainable, future-focused energy industries.

Contact a Solon Expert Today

Contact our design and engineering team with any questions you might have regarding your hydrogen fuel cell stack or additional inquiries.

Other ways Solon Belleville Springs & Washers are used in the renewable energy industry:Solon Belleville Springs And Washers Used In Hydrogen Production Infographic