Automation Applications Labratory

Located in the Lowe Center for Industrial Innovation 1027B, the CATS Automation Applications Laboratory is used for the development of manufacturing automation processes and systems.  In this space, CATS researchers are working in a wide variety of industries including metal forming, composites manufacturing, investment casting, fuel cell manufacturing, robotic assembly and many others.  This laboratory includes a 10-ton bridge crane and high bay capacity.  CATS maintains full CNC machining capability for rapidly prototyping components and systems.

Some of the equipment used in this laboratory include:

40 Ton Precision, Production MEA Sealing Press and Tooling.  This custom designed 40T MEA press with heated tooling has special hydraulic controls to enable precise pressure control over a large range of MEA sizes, micro-adjustable platens, and hot ground tooling to maintain parallelism and flatness of the heated tools.

Two axis laser cutting system with flying optics.  This laser cell was designed for research in the capabilities and limitations of applying multiple laser types to the cutting and joining of typical fuel cell materials, and to investigate alternatives to hard tooling for MEA manufacture. The test-bed supports UV and custom wavelength CO2 lasers, flying optics, and sub-micron position interpolation.

CATS facilities include three fuel cell test stands; two custom engineered by Fuel Cell Technologies, Inc. of Albuquerque, NM and one internally developed to accommodate tests ranging from single cells to stacks up to 60V at 800W maximum power.  The unit interfaces with NI LabView for test control and result logging and supports several automated test protocols.  Additionally, the test station provides gas stream flow control, heating, humidity, and back-pressure control for anode and cathode gases so cells can be operated at greater than one atmosphere.  Automatic anode nitrogen purge and automatic system shutdown features are provided.

Custom servo press for stack compression research.  CATS has developed a DC motor, servo controlled press for fuel cell stack compression research.