An Open Talk with Kewell’s Fuel Cell Business Director by 12 Questions
Recently, we had the honor of inviting a key figure from Kewell to shed light on their main products, tech-achievements, & industry planning for FC business.
By 12 questions & unscripted answers, TrendBank unveiled Kewell’s secrets.
#FuelCell #Testing #TestSystem #ElectronicLoad #Engine #Stack #SinoSynergy #REFIRE #Kewell
In the end of 2016, Hefei Kewell Power System (aka Kewell) started to lay out in fuel cell testing application. In the following year, they introduced four products to the market on a timely schedule, fuel cell electronic load, engine test system, stack test system, and DC/DC test system.
Known for their robust products and competitive pricing, Kewell has quickly won the recognition from a few industry leaders and research institutes, such as CATARC, SinoHytec, Shanghai Hydrogen Propulsion Technology, REFIRE, Weichai Power, and Yutong Bus etc.
Since 2018, China’s fuel cell industry has been developing rapidly with the support of government. Up to now, the total number of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in China has reached more than 7,000 in total.
In September 2020, five ministries issued a four-year incentive policy to push the industrialization and technical innovation of fuel cell vehicles by providing directions and rewards to eligible cities.
Driven by multiple positive factors, fuel cell industry is destined to flourish at an unprecedented speed. A big wave of orders for fuel cell vehicles can be expected, benefiting relevant businesses, and providing opportunities for high-power test bench.
Recently, we had the honor of inviting a key figure from Kewell, Ye Jiangde, to shed light on their main products, tech-achievements, and industry planning.
Three Main Products & Tech-achievements
Q1. In fuel cell application, what types of products do you list as flagship projects at present?
"Our fuel cell application can be divided into three product lines, the hydrogen fuel cell engine test system, stack test system, and parts test system." Said Ye.
§ On the stack part, we have covered from single cell, short stack, to high-power stack test application;
§ On the engine part, we have covered power levels from tens of kilowatts to three hundred kilowatts;
§ On the fuel cell parts, we have test systems for DC/DC, hydrogen circulating pump, and air compressor.
Fuel Cell Stack Test System
Fuel Cell Engine Test System
Fuel Cell DC/DC Test System
Q2. What power levels of stacks can be tested with Kewell's stack test system?
"The rated power range of engine test system is slightly smaller compared with the others, but for stack test system, power range can be made much bigger due to the fact that the cells can be overlayered. We offer test systems from single cell, short stack, to high-power parts at any requested power levels." Said Ye.
Q3. What’s the core technologies of stack test system?
"Short and large stacks alike, the testing requirements of it vary against test parts and fields of technologies. The core technologies can be summarized as follows:
§ Back pressure control of both anode gas and cathode gas;
§ Precise flow control;
§ Static-state & Dynamic-state compatibility.
Single cell can be more sensitive to parameters and very demanding on control precision. Large stacks with high-power levels are more demanding on gas flow processing and load. Therefore, the safety and reliability of test system is of paramount importance." Said Ye.
Q4. How long does it take for you to assemble the 150kW high-power fuel cell stack test system for delivery?
"The core parts of the system are mainly imported items, such as flow meters, sensors, and valves, therefore requires four months on average for delivery in the industry."
"But for Kewell, as a listed company in the STAR Market, we’re able to shorten the lead time by storing some inventory for the common items, cutting it to as short as three months." Said Ye.
Q5. At the SinoSynergy project, you were able to complete debugging for the 150kW stack test system in two weeks. What’s your secret recipe to accomplish this?
"We believe this is a contributing result of three factors, product superiority, teamwork spirit, and dedication."
"On the product part, the structure design of generation two products is largely built on the first. We spent a lot of time working with our customers to validify the products on functionality and performance before launching them to the market."
"We envision products that can be recognized by our customers across industries. We hope our products to be perceived as highly adaptable, robust, and convenient. Finally, we strive to present products that are fully validified before handing over."
"There are some defects in the first generation, we admit, such as product design and functionality. But by partnering with our trusted customers, we’re able to identify the issues and renovate our products from the perspective of frontline users then go to market when fully prepared."
"What’s worth noticing is that, we have got projects from both FTXT Energy Technology and Zhejiang Fenergy Technology on a 200kW stack test system and a 150kW stack test system respectively."
"On the team part, the best case to demonstrate Kewell spirit is the SinoSynergy project. We were determined to complete product delivery and debugging services for the customer on time." Ye concluded.
Q6. Could you tell us about the new products preparing for launching?
"The next product will be relevant with single membrane electrode assembly. As for SOFC, we’re still in the development stage." Said Ye.
Production Capacity & Future Planning
Q7. What is Kewell’s production capacity for each product? Is there any capacity plan?
"he first product we introduced to the market was hydrogen fuel cell engine test system in 2017. Three years after that, nearly a hundred sets of the product had been sold, taking the lead in market share."
"As for fuel cell stack test system, it’s more technical demanding than engine test system therefore prolongs the development time by one to two years. Now that we have delivered to SinoSynergy and to a dozen of industry customers, the product is quite stable and well-received by the market."
"In fact, there are several sets of fuel cell stack test system ready for delivery to Yutong Bus and FTXT Energy Technology at this very moment. It’s a high-power product at 150kW featuring fast debugging process."
"The delivery volume of such high-power stack test bench is relatively low at present. But Kewell keeps receiving orders from the industry, particularly from an exemplary enterprise like SinoSynergy." Said Ye.
Q8. Will Kewell provide testing services for other companies in the future?
"Basically, we’re not interested in becoming a third-party validation service or a testing center. We hope to stick to what we’re doing and bring out the best of us to our customers. In fact, there are many test centers around the country using our products to provide validation service, places like Tianjin, Wuhan, Shanghai, and Chongqing. But we’re considering to establish our own R&D centers and laboratories in major cities like Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou. The labs will serve as:
§ A demonstration room for industry customers to visit;
§ A pre-compliance testing space for free, but no validation service.
Therefore, the labs will not clash with other third-party institutes." Said Ye.
Q9. Do you consider moving your business centers to Beijing, Shanghai or Guangzhou?
"As a listed company headquartered in Hefei, it’s unlikely that we move to elsewhere. But we will continue to fortify our pre-sale service and after-sale service by setting up branches around the country and investing in labs."
"It’s rather simple of how we decide to locate testing centers, a purpose-oriented principle. Take Hefei for instance. It would present a problem if we make it a place to showcase all of our products as there’s no hydrogen station for fuel cell application in Hefei."
"Unlike test power supply, a hydrogen fuel cell lab requires additional infrastructure, hydrogen supply and containment. Only a few cities in China like Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou are equipped with such facilities ."
"Therefore, it’s really dependent on the environmental conditions. Right now, we’re proposing to the Hefei Municipal to set up a hydrogen station in the city."
"We’re even considering to lay out in areas like North, East, and South China, to provide proximity for customers from the Pearl River Delta and the Yangtze River Delta regions to visit our labs, labs that are equipped with hydrogen supply unit." Said Ye.
Relevant Standards & Status Quo for Fuel Cell Test Application
Q10. Take hydrogen circulating pump and air compressor for instance. As there’s no established technical standard to follow. What’s the base of Kewell’s products?
"For now, we place more focus on the core requirements of the entire product, strictly conforming to all the technical standards of a fuel cell engine."
"It’s true that there’s no relevant standard for individual part to follow. As a result of this, we turn to industry standards recognized by our customers to produce eligible testing solutions for each part."
Q11. Is there any additional requirement or standard from third-party inspection institutes when purchasing your equipment?
"Our customers can be categorized into two types:
§ R&D institutes or third-party labs. They require complete functionality in a detailed manner.
§ Production units or EoL testing. They have rather simple requirements for functionality and product precision.
We follow national stands for local customers if it were used for R&D purposes or third-party labs, such as CATARC. We comply with the special requirements for overseas customers if it were used for validation services. We abide by industry standards if it were used for production and EoL testing." Said Ye.
Q12. Will it impact your competitive advantage if your customers turned to a third-party institute instead of buying from you directly due to cost reason?
"Companies like REFIRE and SinoSynergy, they have strict measures in containing classified information. Therefore, it’s very common for these companies to have their own labs and conduct the testing themselves. They know that sending away their products to a third-party is as much as risking intel leakage to peer competitors."
"Of course there will be exceptions. For those who don’t have a lab, their only alternative is to seek a third-party inspection."
"Market demands will become more diversified as the industry scale develops further, especially from the industry leaders. Their demands may no longer be limited to R&D testing. It’s true that they might turn to overseas solutions at the start, but as the industry scale expands, and with local vendors upgraded, these companies may turn to local solutions once more as they are offered with better prices with satisfying results."
"Therefore, it’s not really an issue we’re most concerned about as most companies will choose to complete their production testing onsite. This may include EoL testing and activation testing." Ye concluded.