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Optimizing High-Temperature PEMFC for HDV

  • By MEAsureD
  • July 5, 2024

The MEAsureD project will revolutionize the performance and durability of high-temperature polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells (HT-PEMFCs). Through a collaborative effort between Advent and the University of Stuttgart (USTUTT), the project aims to enhance the electrode structure of HT-PEMFCs, focusing on two primary avenues: the development of new ionomers and the optimization of catalysts.

New Ionomers: Enhancing Conductivity and Durability

A significant part of this endeavor involves the introduction of a phosphonic acid functionalized poly(pentafluorostyrene) ionomer, known for its superior acid retention and hydrophobic properties. Initial results are promising, with the ion-pair technology involving this ionomer achieving a current density of 1.1 W/cm² at 0.4 V and 160°C, and 1.6 W/cm² at 0.45 V and 240°C under H₂/O₂ conditions.

USTUTT, in collaboration with Advent, will focus on optimizing the production of the ionomer. The goal is to identify alternative synthetic methods that are both reproducible and well-controlled to reduce costs. Additionally, USTUTT will develop new phosphonated polymers, including non-fluorinated and partially fluorinated variants, and quaternary ammonium functionalized polyaromatics containing fluorine atoms. These new ionomers aim to provide optimized ion-conduction pathways and effectively bind the supported catalyst particles at high temperatures (>160°C).

New Catalysts: Maximizing Efficiency and Minimizing Platinum Use

Current state-of-the-art ion-pair HT-PEMFC systems use PtRu/C at the anode and Pt/C or Pt alloys/C at the cathode. Advent developing catalysts with lower Platinum content to achieve the KPI of the project.

Development and Impact on Heavy-Duty Vehicles

The project will develop membrane electrode assemblies (MEAs) and fuel cell components in two main work packages (WP1 and WP2). These include:

– High-Temperature PEMs: These membranes will offer high proton conductivity and stability above 160°C.

– Advanced Electrodes: Incorporating next-generation ionomers, innovative catalysts, and new electrode fabrication techniques.

– Bipolar Plates: Enhancing availability and durability to meet the needs of heavy-duty vehicle (HDV) end-users.

The new HT-PEMFC electrode structure aims to improve performance at high cell voltages and durability under dynamic driving conditions, meeting the Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA) Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for HDVs.

Significance and Exploitation

The advancements in HT-PEMFC technology will benefit Advent’s operations. The technology will be exploited by Advent, the fuel cell manufacturer, with assessments by original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in the Advisory Board, paving the way for future innovations in fuel cell technology for heavy-duty applications.

In summary, MEAsureD’s efforts in optimizing HT-PEMFC electrode structures through innovative ionomers and catalysts promise significant advancements in fuel cell technology, particularly for heavy-duty vehicles, enhancing performance, durability, and cost-effectiveness.