Innovative Equipment Design for Cost-Effective Production of Hydrogen Fuel Cell Ion Exchange Media

Discover the innovative approach taken to streamline manufacturing, reduce costs, and deliver superior performance, while meeting the demands of sustainable energy solutions.


This case study highlights how Shawmut Corporation leveraged its machine design expertise to revolutionize the manufacturing process of hydrogen fuel cell ion exchange media with linear air-flow channels. In an era where sustainable energy solutions are gaining momentum, the demand for hydrogen fuel cells as a clean power source has surged. However, current solutions for manufacturing ion exchange media were hampered by the inability to reliably produce consistent output that performed to spec due to a manual manufacturing process, which could not be cost-effectively scaled up.

The Challenge

A significant challenge in ensuring optimal fuel cell performance is the accumulation of condensation within the exchange media, which can hamper efficiency and longevity. The primary hurdle confronting Shawmut was the production of an ion exchange media that featured linear air-flow channels intricately embedded within the composite to facilitate the removal of condensate, all while preserving the integrity of the underlying filter media and thermoplastic components. Furthermore, the manufacturing process, which historically had been very manual and time consuming, had to be cost-effective and scalable to accommodate the surging demand for hydrogen fuel cell components.

Innovative Approach

Shawmut embarked on this challenge by initially developing a manual hand layup process to create prototypes. Once the design was successfully validated, the team scaled up production by employing its expertise in machine design, engineering, and manufacturing to create a continuous lamination line. This state-of-the-art production line incorporated a traditional textile creel, enabling the introduction of internal components that were seamlessly integrated between the filter media to construct the intricate channel-structured composites. The design also included the necessary physical channel separation to ensure optimal performance specs were met.

Results and Impact

The implementation of this innovative manufacturing process allowed Shawmut to produce ion exchange media featuring linear air-flow channels in a cost-effective and scalable manner. The process safeguarded the integrity of the underlying filter media and thermoplastic components, ensuring the highest quality product. This new approach met and exceeded the performance specifications required for efficient dehumidification within hydrogen fuel cells.


Shawmut’s commitment to leveraging its machine design expertise in the pursuit of more efficient and cost-effective solutions led to the successful scaled-up production of ion exchange media with linear air-flow channels. This achievement not only met the stringent performance criteria for dehumidification in hydrogen fuel cells but also reduced production costs and enhanced overall efficiency. Through innovative equipment design, Shawmut positioned itself as a partner in meeting the needs of its clients while advancing the future of sustainable energy solutions.

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Project Details


Advanced Equipment Design to Produce Hydrogen Fuel Cell Ion Exchange Media

Industry for Use:


Capabilities Applied/Processes:

Equipment Design

Shawmut’s machine design capabilities played a pivotal role in redefining the production process of hydrogen fuel cell ion exchange media. After initially developing a manual hand layup process to create prototypes, Shawmut successfully designed and implemented an automated continuous lamination line featuring a textile creel mechanism. This innovation facilitated the precise introduction of internal components, seamlessly embedded within the filter media to create intricate linear air-flow channels.

Materials Used:

  • Monofilament Fibers
  • Non-woven Material
  • Modified Polyethylene
  • Ion Exchange Media

Equipment Used to Manufacture Part:

  • Thermal Lamination
  • Nip Rolls
  • Inline Rotary Die Cutting
  • High Pressure Lamination
  • Web Guiding Technology

Width of Part:

20 feet

Length of Part:

45 feet to 60 feet

Delivery/Turnaround Time:

In just 6 months this project went from a manual hand layup process and initial prototypes to the implementation of a newly designed continuous manufacturing process. The new production line was packaged and shipped to the customer for production to resume in their facility.

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