Advancing Hydrogen Mobility: A Collaboration Success Story

The world of automotive technology is constantly evolving and places great emphasis on sustainability and clean energy solutions. In this effort, the Slovak company VIPO a.s. has been focusing on new mobility through hydrogen energy. However, as with any pioneering technology, there are challenges to be overcome. VIPO’s latest challenge was to optimize the method of adding nano-fillers to the EPDM rubber matrix – a synthetic rubber commonly used in sealing applications. In order for the developed composition to have the required barrier properties, the nanofiller must be uniformly distributed in the elastomer. To solve this obstacle, VIPO set out to create a process that would effectively incorporate nano filler into EPDM rubber.

In a first step to visualize and evaluate their progress, VIPO researchers turned to scanning electron microscopy (SEM) to examine their process at the microscale. The measurements were carried out in the area of μm2.

Enter the PMA and SR Conference 2023, held from May 24th to 26th, 2023, in Smolenice, Slovakia. It was at this prestigious meeting that VIPO found a new potential solution to its challenge, in the form of a laser-induced spectroscopy (LIBS) instrument developed by AtomTrace. VIPO R&D staff closely followed our demonstration of rapid mapping of various chemical elements in polymers using our M-Trace. Based on our presentation, they decided to validate our tool and method to verify their additive incorporation process.

AtomTrace’s M-Trace, known for its remarkable speed and precise detection capabilities, offered VIPO the opportunity to examine polymers on a much larger scale. The provided samples were tested for the presence and distribution of aluminium and magnesium. The results were then visualized using heat maps, with colors indicating the concentration levels of these elements.

Fig. 1 – Chemical map of the distribution of Mg (285,21 nm)

With LIBS, measurements could be taken in cm2, a remarkable 100,000,000 times larger than the previous microscale measurements. Moreover, LIBS technology allowed for rapid data acquisition, significantly reducing the time required for the analysis.

In conclusion, the cooperation of VIPO a.s. and AtomTrace as. produced remarkable results. The speed and detection capabilities of our LIBS technology helped VIPO researcher optimize the process of adding and distributing nanofiller within the EPDM. The knowledge gained will contribute to achieving the required parameters of sealing elements in hydrogen-powered systems. These experiments also show the versatility and potential of LIBS technology in analyzing new trends and advanced technologies.


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