This year MANN+HUMMEL again presented products for electric mobility and fuel cells at the Frankfurt motor show – and there was considerable interest from the public. In addition to the well‑known battery frames for the Chevrolet Volt everything revolved around filtration products for electric mobility and fuel cells.

What filtration products are even necessary in an electric vehicle?

The use of the components fitted to electric vehicles such as high-voltage batteries, electric motors and power electronics requires a defined temperature range which in turn makes active cooling or heating necessary, something which can be achieved with air or with a liquid coolant. In the case of air cooling, we use particle filter media to protect the battery and blower against harmful particles. Highly efficient media which are particularly resistant to chemicals are also required for the liquid cooling of the battery system.

Particles can lead to wear in cooling system components such as the pump or result in a blocking of the cooling channels. This is where we can impress with our best filter media. The integration of power electronics, electric motor and gearbox in an electric axle drive system requires lubrication in addition to liquid cooling. This can be achieved using MANN+HUMMEL filter concepts already used for the filtration of gearbox oil. The integration of magnets serves to additionally remove metallic particles.

filtration products for electric mobility and fuel cells

If we understand filtration to be the removal of the harmful from the useful, then our pressure balancing and degassing units which have been in series production for some years also count as filter products. They allow the useful, i.e. the air required for pressure balancing of the ambient air and the air inside the battery system, to pass through a membrane but at the same time to retain liquids and solids. Our air dryer products, which we presented for the first time with a new design, bind the air humidity in the inside of the battery system and in this way prevent water condensation on cooling surfaces. Our product is especially effective in hot and humid regions and also with the application of quick charging.

In addition, we have also registered great interest – especially from the producers of premium electric vehicles – for products to provide clean air in the passenger compartment.The car passengers as well as the environment have to be protected from local emissions from traffic such as particulates and nitrogen oxide.

Cathode air cleaner system

And what about fuel cells?

We presented two products for fuel cells, an ion exchanger filter and a fuel cell air cleaner system. The latter filters harmful particles in the air and also adsorbs harmful gases which otherwise would cause long-term damage to the fuel cell. If we look at the air cleaner system with its filter element, housing and dirty air and clean air connections we see it is only slightly different to the air cleaner system of a combustion engine and therefore this gives us the opportunity to exploit a considerable amount of our experience and expertise. The ion exchanger filter removes dissolved salts and ions from the coolant of the fuel cell and therefore prevents short-circuits in the fuel cell stack.

How was your impression of the Frankfurt motor show?

At the show it was noticeable that a number of car producers who define themselves through electric cars such as Tesla or BYD were not even present or exhibited. On the other hand many electric mobility innovations were presented by the major 1st Tier suppliers like Bosch, Continental, and ZF. The suppliers often allocated a considerable amount of space on their stand to electric mobility products. These products included, for example, complete battery systems, electric drives, motors and electric axles. The electric vehicles of the traditional OEMs were presented in a low-key manner, presumably to indicate that these developments are no longer a showpiece for the latest technology and will soon become commonplace.

IAA 2017

And the highlight?

I very much liked the exhibit of the Daimler GLC fuel cell plug-in. The exhibit clearly showed all the system components of interest. It was also interesting that in the area of innovation and technology the OEMs made presentations with virtual reality, 3D printing and new mobility concepts. Such a wealth of ideas and developments means that we can enjoy looking forward to the future of the motor car.