Research Project:


iPREFER - Innovative Processes Enabling Fuel Cell Ramp-up

Research area:   Fuel Cell, Assembly, Automation, Sustainability, Hydrogen technologies
Funded by:   Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action
In collaboration with:  
  • Airbus Operations GmbH
  • Synergeticon GmbH
  • Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt e.V. (DLR)
  • Zentrum für Angewandte Luftfahrtforschung GmbH (ZAL)
Start of the project:   April 2023
End of the project   September 2026
Contact persons at the institute:   Arne Wendt, M.Sc.
Vincent Ahrens, M.Sc.
Adrian Pustelnik, M.Sc.


Hydrogen-powered fuel cells currently offer the greatest potential for achieving the aviation industry’s net-zero emissions target. The production of hydrogen-powered aircraft is therefore already planned by 2035. In order to achieve this, fuel cell systems must be produced on an industrial scale as quickly as possible. The use in aviation and the required performance of the system entail quality requirements, handling weights and dimensions that are not reflected in previous fuel cell system production processes. In order to achieve the net-zero emissions target, it is necessary to avoid emissions not only during operation, but throughout the entire product life cycle, including product creation.

In the joint project “iPREFER” (Innovative Processes Enabling Fuel Cell Ramp-up), together with the partners Airbus, Synergeticon, ZAL GmbH and DLR, the IFPT is working in the sub-project “Innovative, sustainable process and technology modules” in two main areas:

One aim of the project is to design and validate the process capability of innovative and sustainable automated assembly processes. In this context, the IFPT is researching new process modules and their interlinking variants. By systematically considering the necessary properties of sustainable assembly lines and processes, new sub-processes are synthesized and can then be combined to form an overall process chain. The aim is a modular system consisting of various innovative and sustainable process modules as a basis for a timely (production) ramp-up of the industrial production of fuel cell systems in aviation.

In addition, the entire life cycle of the fuel cell system is to be considered as early as the product development phase. To this end, the IFPT is pursuing the development of a device (JIG), which serves as an interface between the product and processes both throughout the entire production process and in future MRO processes. This means that operating principles can be tested and evaluated at an early stage.