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Production of the membrane electrode assembly for fuel cells with the Freelance DCS

The goal of the engineering team at BASF Fuel Cell was to build the entire production facility using a standardized approach.

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The goal of the engineering team was to build the entire production facility using a standardized approach

The pilot production also includes a batch process

BASF Fuel Cell Inc ​was a subsidiary of BASF and a leading supplier of membrane electrode assemblies (MEA) for high temperature Polymer Electrolyte Membrane PEM fuel cells, as well as fuel cell and reformer catalysts to the emerging fuel cell industry.

The pilot production of the membrane electrode assembly within the BASF Polymer Electrolyte Membranes plant located in Somerset, New Jersey, USA, was designed by a BASF engineering team. The goal of the team was to build the entire production facility using a standardized approach. The chemical process for the membrane production includes the dosing, mixing and production of the raw materials in a reactor. The process is performed using a batch process.

For the automation of this process, BASF chose an ABB process control system. ABB’s Freelance DCS was selected because of its small footprint and flexibility. Freelance systems are used in applications in many BASF plants globally.

Main facts

Industry Specialty chemicals
Customer BASF Fuel Cell Inc
Country United States
Solutions

Freelance DCS with:

System integrator
BASF Fuel Cell Inc and local channel partners: Applied Analytics Inc. and Applied Control Engineering, Inc. (ACE)

Integrated Batch Management

The batch management is performed using the sequencing (SFC) capability of the Freelance DCS. Standard displays are used to control the batch parameters.

Local support by channel partners

The entire membrane production application was designed by BASF’s central engineering group and then shipped on site.

Start-up was performed by local Freelance Channel Partners. Applied Analytics Inc., a Flemington, NJ, USA based certified vendor for ABB control systems and by Applied Control Engineering, Inc. (ACE), a certified Solution Provider with a wealth of previous experience using the Freelance control system.

Start-up went smoothly – there were no significant issues.

Zhenyu Liu, project engineer at BASF, Somerset, NJ, United States
“Freelance has been doing the control job from the very first day with no problem. We particularly like the simplicity of operation and the trouble shooting capability, which let’s our operator react quickly without having to call for help.”
Emory De Castro, plant manager at BASF, Somerset, NJ, United States
“We had the proven track record of this system and knew it would be a reliable system for our pilot production, but moreover it is good to know, that due to its scalability we can use it for larger industrial production as well.”

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