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Symbio, Schaeffler launch global JV ‘Innoplate’ to make fuel-cell bipolar plates (BPP)

Image for representation purposes only. Source: Ballard

Symbio, a Michelin and Faurecia hydrogen company, and Schaeffler Group have signed an agreement for the creation of a 50:50 joint venture firm to produce fuel cell bipolar plates for global mobility and energy solutions.

The JV named 'Innoplate' will be located at Haguenau in the Alsace region of France. It will combine the know-how of both the companies in pursuit of the vast potential in the emerging hydrogen economy. It will also build a Franco-German partnership aiming at strengthening the European hydrogen mobility value chain.

The company is to become operational by the end of the year, and will accelerate the production of next generation BPP for the entire proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell market. The product will enhance performance, capacity and cost competitiveness for its customers, claims the partnering companies.

"Metallic fuel cell bipolar plates are a strategic high value-added component of the fuel cell system. Innoplate will be instrumental to secure serial production capability underpinning our customers' programs and the Hydrogen mobility market uptake, while accelerating enhanced system performance and an effective step-up in cost competitiveness of our solutions", said Philippe Rosier, CEO of Symbio.

Klaus Rosenfeld, CEO of Schaeffler, commented, "We believe that hydrogen will play a vital role in enabling clean mobility in the future. The establishment of a hydrogen economy and the transition to sustainable energy resources will largely depend on the industrialization of reliable supply chains for the new technologies".

He further said, "Our Joint Venture with Symbio is a great example for this approach. As a global company that is headquartered in Germany, we are also very happy to partner with Symbio in France and foster the Franco-German cooperation in this important area. The JV allows a fast market entry for Schaeffler in partnership with a leading fuel cell supplier".

The JV is expected to roll out products from early 2024. The facility will have an initial capacity of 4 million BPP per year, aiming at producing annually around 50 million BPP globally and employing more than 120 people by 2030, according to the companies' official statement.

The partners claim that Innoplate will enable and accelerate the mass-production of next generation BPP, with Symbio and Schaeffler being the JV's exclusive customers. Symbio has received a first major nomination for their fuel cell system from a leading automotive OEM and plans to use the JV to supply the BPP for this program, they claim. 

Author : Dhiyanesh Ravichandran
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