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1. (WO2005067085) PROCEDE ET SYSTEME DE PRODUCTION DE PILES A COMBUSTIBLE
Note: Texte fondé sur des processus automatiques de reconnaissance optique de caractères. Seule la version PDF a une valeur juridique

CLAIMS

1. A fuel cell manufacturing method by which an unbroken strip of sheet material is molded, assembled with MEAs, modularized, and separated into individual modules, characterized by comprising:
a molding process of sequentially molding separators on the strip of sheet material and producing a separator strip in which the separators are connected together by runners which form outer frames of the separators;
an assembling/modularizing process of sequentially assembling the MEAs on the separator strip in which a series of the separators are connected together by the runners, and producing a module strip in which a series of the modules are connected together by the runners; and
a separating process of separating the series of modules into the individual modules by cutting and removing the runners from the module strip.

2. The manufacturing method according to claim 1, characterized in that, in the molding process, the separators are molded on the strip of sheet material leaving the runners on both side edges, in the lateral direction, of the strip of sheet material, and the strip of sheet material is conveyed downstream of the molding process while distortion in the strip of sheet material is corrected by pressing both side edges, in the lateral direction, of the runners using a roller.

3. The manufacturing method according to claim 1, characterized in that, in the molding process, the separators are molded leaving the runners on both sides, in the lateral direction, of the strip of sheet material, while conveying/positioning holes are machined in both side edges, in the lateral direction, of the runners in precise positions with respect to the separators, and the positions of the separators downstream of the molding process can be ascertained by conveying the strip of sheet material using the conveying/positioning holes in both side edges, in the lateral direction, of the runners.

4. The manufacturing method according to claim 1, characterized in that frames made of an insulating material are provided on outer edge portions of electrolyte membranes of the MEAs before the MEAs are assembled to the separator strip; and
in the assembling/modularizing process, the frames are used to position the MEAs for assembly to the separator strip.

5. The manufacturing method according to claim 4, characterized in that, in the molding process, assembly guides are molded on the strip of sheet material, and
in the assembling/modularizing process, the MEAs with the frames are assembled after being automatically positioned in predetermined positions on the separators on the strip of sheet material by guiding the outside edges of the frames by the assembly guides.

6. The manufacturing method according to claim 1, characterized in that, in the molding process, the runners are provided between adjacent separators on the strip of sheet material, and a separator pitch of the runners is adjusted using pitch adjusting portions provided so as to connect the runners together.

7. The manufacturing method according to claim 6, characterized in that bending guide portions, which have a lower flexural rigidity than other portions of the runners, are provided on the runners, and the bending guide portions are used as the pitch adjusting portions.

8. The manufacturing method according to claim 7, characterized in that the bending guide portions are formed thinner than the runners or are provided with slit portions such that the bending guide portions bend through a 360 degree range, from +180 degrees to -180 degrees.

9. The manufacturing method according to claim 1, characterized in that, in the molding process, the runners are further provided on the strip of sheet material between adjacent separators as well as on both side edges, in the lateral direction, of the strip of sheet material, and a rib is molded on the runner around the entire periphery of each of the separators.

10. The manufacturing method according to claim 1, characterized in that, in the molding process, all of the molding is performed in a single plastic forming process using a mold.

11. The manufacturing method according to claim 1, characterized in that:
in the molding process, the runners are molded on the strip of sheet material, and at least one from among the positioning holes, the pitch adjusting portions, the bending guide portions, and the ribs are provided concentrated around the runners; and
in the separating process, the runners are removed from the module.

12. The manufacturing method according to claim 1, characterized in that:
two strips of the sheet material are supplied to the molding process;
in the molding process, the assembly guides are molded on one of the strips of sheet material, while assembly guide receiving means, which are holes or cutouts, are molded in the other strip of sheet material, and conveying/positioning holes are machined in both side edges, in the lateral direction, of the runners of both strips of sheet material; and
in the assembling/modularizing process, the assembly guides of the one strip of sheet material are inserted into the assembly guide receiving means of the other strip of sheet material such that the assembly guides are kept from interfering with the other strip of sheet material, and both strips of sheet material are assembled facing one another with the respective conveying/positioning holes of the runners of each strip of sheet material aligned, such that modularization can be performed continuously without having to stop the two strips of sheet material being conveyed.

13. The manufacturing method according to claim 1, characterized in that:
one strip of the sheet material is supplied to the molding process;
in the molding process, an anode side separator and a cathode side separator are molded alternately on the single strip of sheet material; and
in the assembling/modularizing process, the MEAs are sequentially assembled to the separator strip, and the module strip, in which the modules are stacked while connected by the runners, is produced by folding the separator strip accordion-style.

14. The manufacturing method according to claim 13, characterized in that the module strip is folded at the runners and the runners between the modules of all of the modules are all cut off and removed together in the separating process.

15. The manufacturing method according to claim 1, characterized in that the separating process includes a batching process in which the runners are gathered together and separated.

16. A fuel cell manufacturing system including, arranged in order in the direction in which a strip of sheet material is conveyed in a conveyer line of the strip of sheet material, a molding station, an assembling/modularizing station, and a runner separating station, characterized by comprising:
a mold provided at the molding station, which sequentially molds separators to the strip of sheet material leaving runners which form outer frames of the separators;
an MEA assembler provided at the assembling/modularizing station, which sequentially assembles MEAs on a separator strip in which a series of the separators are connected by the runners; and
a cutter provided at the separating station, which cuts and removes the runners from a module strip with the MEAs sequentially assembled to the separator strip.