Test Lab Aids Fuel Cell Designer

| Environmental Testing

Modern test chambers can be used for both immunity and emissions testing

Paxton Test facility assists Bramble energy to prepare a Hydrogen Fuel Cell Generator for EMC compliance testing

Sussex based technology manufacturer Paxton has an in-house facility to test electrical products or hardware, speeding up product development and launches. The Paxton Test Facility is available to the public and recently worked with Bramble Energy, a renewable energy innovator, to prepare their Hydrogen Fuel Cell Generator for compliance test.

The state-of-the-art facility is situated in the Paxton Technology Centre in Brighton, East Sussex. It is there that the international manufacturer invents, designs, develops and tests their products ready for launch in the 63 countries they export to. The test facility also supports businesses that need product testing, saying they offer shorter lead times compared to general test houses in the UK. Easy to book using the Paxton test facility’s web site, a team of in-house engineers is available to assist testing if required, providing extra convenience to manufacturers.

Brett Glass, Paxton’s Compliance Manager, oversees the day-to-day running of the facility. He says: “Our vision has been to create a test facility that helps us, and other manufacturers, get their products tested quickly and efficiently to support product launches.”

He went on to say that since opening the facility, they have tested a large variety of products. “Many of the companies have started working with us due to our almost immediate availability, compared with 6-to-8-week lead-times nationally,” he adds.

Modern Facilities

Paxton’s modern facility has been designed and built with no expense spared, using industry leading equipment. This includes an Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) Chamber for manufacturers who need to perform emission and immunity tests at three metres. The company also has equipment to carry out Electrostatic Discharge (ESD), surge, transients and power quality tests.

Additionally, Paxton has installed various Environmental Chambers to test the impact to products from environmental factors including UV, moisture, cold, humidity and heat. These powerful machines perform stress tests to determine a product’s expected lifespan and can be used to test the suitability of components during the design process.

According to Glass, many of Paxton’s clients are testing their new designs with the company because its lead times are shorter than all the national test houses. Taking into account that 50% of products fail EMC testing the first time around, the pre-compliance testing offered can really be of benefit to keep a product launch timely and on track.

“Another benefit of our Test Facility is that our engineering team is very experienced. Each of our engineers has over 20 years of experience in testing products, so we are able to use that experience to help our customers through the testing process,” continues Glass.

“Ultimately, the test facility aims to be efficient and cost effective to both large and small businesses. We like to be flexible and take a best effort approach for our customers,” he says.

Hydrogen Fuel Cell Generator, Bramble Energy

Recently, the Test Facility ran tests on a hydrogen fuel cell generator to prepare it for EMC compliance test. Bramble Energy is the designer and manufacturer of the product and is an innovator in renewable energy technologies, designing and manufacturing high-performance, low-cost, hydrogen fuel cell systems.

According to Thomas Wines, Senior Engineer at Bramble Energy, traditional PEM fuel cells are manufactured using expensive material, using complex processes – resulting in high-cost technology.

“Our technology, the Printed Circuit Board Fuel Cell (PCBFC), is a patent-protected, revolutionary manufacturing method which makes use of existing supply chain routes from the printed circuit board industry. This offers a cost-effective, time efficient and scalable hydrogen fuel cell solution,” says Wines.

Test Requirement

Bramble Energy was looking for an Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) testing partner to support the development of their new SD04 Hydrogen Fuel Cell Generator. In addition to providing testing services, it was important for the test partner to provide engineering support to diagnose any EMC issues that may arise through testing, helping with any further development.

Before working with the team at the Paxton test facility, Bramble Energy visited the the lab to take a tour and to discuss their test requirements.

“Our Hydrogen Fuel Cell Generator is to be placed in a broad range of commercial and industrial environments, so the product needs to satisfy a list of safety and product requirements before it becomes available to the market,” says Wines.

Product testing is an essential process of Bramble’s Hydrogen Fuel Cell Generator’s launch. The innovative renewable energy technology company needed quality EMC test facility equipment and product-testing engineers to assist along testing.

“The information and support given by the engineers from the Paxton Test Facility was professional. The conversational testing process is the reason why we chose to test our product there,” Wines concludes.


The first stage of the project involved EMC pre-compliance testing to gauge the status of the product with respect to emissions and immunity performance. The Paxton test facility was used to conduct pre-compliance tests for Radiated Emission, Radiated Immunity and Electrostatic Discharge.

The pre-compliance test findings highlighted further development work for Bramble Energy to improve any EMC issues.

Following the development work, the facility was used again for verification of the design changes to resolve the EMC issues.

“It wasn’t just the test facility and equipment that we provided, but also our experienced engineers who were there to work with the customer and raise suggestions based on the test result,” says Glass.

Test Results

The good availability of the Paxton test facility allowed for Bramble Energy to get support and feedback with a quick turnaround. Paxton’s experienced engineers were able to diagnose EMC issues and provide a report for their engineers to work from. This allowed Bramble Energy to complete its development work in good time.

Wines said: “The support and progress made was great, and hospitality very much appreciated. The reports have been very helpful in gauging our status and planning further development work and were sent through at lightning speed!”

Bramble Energy has subsequently used the Paxton test facility to successfully complete formal compliance testing on its SD04 product to BS EN 61000-6-1, and BS EN 61000-6-3.

“Great wrap-around service and genuine interest in the product, which helps. We would recommend the Paxton Test Facility, but we will regret it as they will get busier,” concludes Wines.

Jonathan Newell
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