Exhibitor Interview: Michael Harenbrock, Principal Expert Electric Mobility, Mann+Hummel Group

Michael has worked for Mann+Hummel Group for over 20 years, and has been in his michael harenbrockcurrent role since July 2018. Immediately prior to this he was Senior Expert Electric Mobility; before that he was Development Manager E-Mobility.


In the world of e-mobility, how important is advanced filtration and separation?

It is becoming more and more important. The main drivers/application areas are clean coolants for battery packs and fuel cell stacks, protection of HV battery packs from water ingress and condensation, cooling and lubrication for e-axles and e-motors, clean air inside the cabin and clean air for the fuel cell

For electric powertrain-related products, we see higher interest as growing field experience reveals what can go wrong in real-life use and production ramp-up. With the higher public awareness of air pollutant-induced health problems, premium BEV manufacturers are not only focusing on reducing the amount of contaminants emitted by the vehicle, but also on protecting passengers from fine dust, NOx, etc. in the ambient air. BEVs have the space available because they do not have an ICE in the front area of the vehicle.


Can you describe how harmful particulates can cause real problems in this sector, and what the Mann+Hummel solution is?

In cooling systems – either air or liquid cooled – particles can create wear and secondary particle emissions in blowers and pumps, which reduces the peak performance and thus reduces the heat dissipation capacity of the cooling system. This can lead to faster cell ageing. The same particles can also agglomerate in and block delicate cooling channels, thus leading to reduced local heat dissipation and having the same effect. Therefore, capable, pressure-drop-optimised particle filters should be applied.

Are you working with technology and/or R&D partners in the development of enhanced products for electric vehicle manufacture, charging and maintenance?

We feel that the e-mobility community is very much collaborative across the whole value chain. We are a member of several industry organisations, such as the VDMA Working Group Fuel Cells, Cluster Electric Mobility South-West, Cluster Fuel Cell Baden-Württemberg, and FVV Planning Group Fuel Cells. We also participate in pre-competitive research projects, either as project partner or in the Industrial Project Steering Committees.

We use these for joint exhibitions in a common pavilion, or to initiate pre-competitive research projects by ourselves.


How do you see the market unfolding in Europe? Do you expect to see upcoming legislation promoting any substantial uptake of e-vehicles?

Upcoming legislation drives the market uptake of electrified powertrains, and OEMs have even introduced brand-specific strategies for how to comply. We will surely see a lot of mild hybrids as they already offer significant CO2 emission reduction at acceptable extra cost. All OEMs have recently announced massive investments – Reuters recently added them up to US$300bn in the next five to ten years


Which particular products help mitigate condensation conditions, in respect of batteries etc?

Water condensation is an issue, particularly in climates with a combination of high temperature and humidity. This includes large areas of China, but also in the USA. The water vapour inside the battery pack can condense on cold surfaces, either on cooling plates or during night when temperatures decrease. To avoid condensation, we apply air dryers that can bind some of the water vapour, lowering the so-called dew point so that condensation cannot happen because the air contacting the cold spots is no longer over-saturated with humidity.


Please could you describe the cathode air cleaner system for fuel cells? How important is this technology?

The fuel cell needs clean air at the cathode inlet. In addition to harmful particles, harmful gases like NH3, NOx and SO2 will poison the fuel cell catalyst, leading to an irreversible performance loss, which is especially critical. These gases must be separated from the ambient air fed into the cathode air path, utilising adsorbers that are tailored to capture these specific gases as standard; for example, activated carbons would not be sufficiently efficient and selective. Field experience shows that excellent air cleaning with an adsorber stage is an enabler and absolute prerequisite for fuel cell technology.

Interestingly, the same materials, in addition to HEPA-like filters, protect passengers from air pollution inside the vehicle cabin, so we realise synergies here.


What new trends do you anticipate and what market demands do you see evolving/changing over the next five years?

This will be very much driven by regional legislation. With the new CO2 emission targets for Europe towards 2025/2030, we will see higher degrees of electrification across fleets. As China will be the dominant market, it will be important to monitor the upcoming legislation to be issued by the Chinese Government.

If battery prices are falling as forecasted, BEVs can also become commercially attractive in certain vehicle segments, maybe even reaching price parity after subsidies.

It will be interesting to see what role fuel cell technology can play in the near future for HD applications for which battery-electric is not a feasible local zero-emission (powertrain) solution.

With regard to car sharing/autonomous vehicles, it remains to be seen if customers will really go for it.


What are your key goals with regard to participation in Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology Expo Europe?

We want to raise the industry’s awareness of the risks that contaminants pose to their systems, potentially reducing system durability, reliability and consequently lifetime.

On the other hand, the industry’s feedback on our product offerings will help us bring even more innovative filtration and separation solutions to the electric mobility arena.


What are you most looking forward to about the show?

Many new contacts and networking opportunities.

Mann+Hummel will be exhibiting at Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology Expo Europe 2019 at stand 106.