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Johnson Matthey-led consortium to develop advanced automotive fuel cells in €7M EU-funded INSPIRE; BMW Group

A coalition led by Johnson Matthey is working to develop the next-generation of automotive fuel cell technology in the three-year, €7-million (US$7.9-million) EU-funded project INSPIRE (Integration Of Novel Stack Components For Performance, Improved Durability And Lower Cost). Consortium members include fuel cell component suppliers, academic institutions and the BMW Group.

INSPIRE’s stated objective is to develop advanced components and to integrate them into an automotive stack showing BOL (beginning of life) performance of 1.5 W/cm2 at 0.6V, less than 10% power degradation after 6,000 hours, and with a technical and economic assessment showing a cost of less than €50/kW (US$57/KW) at a 50,000 annual production scale.

The partners will select and build on components which can achieve key target metrics—e.g., catalyst materials showing mass activities of 0.44 A/mg Pt.

There will be focus on integration of the key components and optimization of the interfaces regarding the electrochemistry, mass and heat transport, and mechanical interactions. Several iterations of an advanced stack design will be evaluated.

The project work is organized to optimize the flow of development, which begins with catalysts being advanced and down-selected; scaled and then fed into the design and development of catalyst layers; integration with membranes; and the demonstration of CCM (catalyst coated membrane) performance.

The CCMs feed into stack component development where they will be integrated with GDLs (gas diffusion layers) to form MEAs (membrane electrode assemblies); and where bipolar plates will be designed and developed and supplied with the MEAs for iterative stack design, assembly and testing.

Johnson Matthey will work in close collaboration with its industrial and academic partners to bring forward materials and components already showing considerable promise in current FCH JU (Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking) projects. FCH JU is a, EU-funded public-private partnership supporting research, technological development and demonstration (RTD) activities in fuel cell and hydrogen energy technologies in Europe.

  • Major European fuel cell component developer SGL Carbon GmbH will work on the carbon fiber gas diffusion layer part of the MEA.

  • DANA Holding Corp. will develop an optimized design of metallic bipolar plate that delivers the hydrogen and air to the MEA and transmits the electricity generated to power the vehicle.

  • BMW Group will set out the requirements for the stack and assemble the MEAs and bipolar plates into new stack designs aimed at achieving the cost, durability and volumetric power density targets required for mass market exploitation.

  • In addition to the industry component developers, the project will involve partners working on next generation catalysts, electrodes and membranes from CNRS Montpellier, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd., Technical University of Munich, Technical University of Berlin and the University of Freiburg. Project management support will be provided by Pretexo.

Johnson Matthey is a major global supplier of platinum-based catalyst layers, catalyzed membranes and fully-integrated MEAs.

Representatives from the partners and the FCH JU gathered at Johnson Matthey’s Technology Centre in the UK on 9-10 May to launch the project and develop the detailed plans for its first phase. As well as realizing the potential of advanced stack materials and components and validating them in the next generation of automotive fuel cell stacks, the project will consolidate a European supply chain for these critical fuel cell stack components and increase the competitiveness of the European fuel cell industry on the world stage.

The three members of the FCH JU are the European Commission, the fuel cell and hydrogen industries represented by Hydrogen Europe and the research community represented by Research Grouping N.ERGHY.



New batteries will have/need unreachable improvements to come close to these new (600,000 Km) FCs for high energy density, longer range, longer lasting and lower cost.

Higher efficiency will make near future FCEVs superior to ICEVs and many steps closer to extended range BEVs.

Interesting competition with the Nissan bio-ethanol FCs?



57$/KW means that a fuel cell stack of the same size as Toyota Mirai will cost 6440$. That amount of money will buy you a 65 KWh battery. And a 65 KWh battery will give you a practical driving range of 400 km, which is sufficient enough for most people.

A FCEV will cost you about 9$ for each 100 km of driving compared with a BEV that cost you less that 2$ for the same distance. After 10 years of driving the FCEV will cost you 10000$ extra compared with the BEV.

So I cant see why new batteries will need unreachable improvements to match these fuel cells.

William Stockwell

I don't know why it has to be one or the other- I think a 30kwh battery pack combined with 30kw of fuel cell is idea- a hundred mile battery range with 30kw fuel cell used as a range extender- 100 miles will get the average driver 90+ percent of his driving needs met and hydrogen fuel cells are a perfect range extender...... well perfect except for the fuel, hydrogen storage as of this moment is still somewhat problematic with fairly low energy density even at 10,000psi if they overcome this then smooth sailing- as for Nissan and the SOFCs, well a better fuel yes but last I looked SOFCs had a power density of .04 W/cm2 as compared to 1.5 W/cm2 for the fuel cells talked about in this press release- of course Nissan's SOFCs may have a better power density but they didn't give that information in their press release.


Very good points W-S.

An FC-PHEV, as you described, could be the best of both worlds with all the added flexibility required for lower price operation in all types of weather, for short and long distances.

Let's see what the Nissan SOFC will do (better?) by 2020 or so. It could be another interesting solution?


What good does it do you to have 100 miles of battery and 200 miles of hydrogen, when the Interstates have Superchargers all over the place but it's often 500 or more miles to the next source of hydrogen?

Unless and until hydrogen is available every 100 miles or so, the whole rationale for HFCEVs is fiction.  In the mean time, Superchargers can go in anywhere the grid reaches.  There is no contest; the window of opportunity for hydrogen has already closed.


Please consider H2FCs and/or bio-ethanol SOFCs as clean, very quick refill, all weather, small range extenders (to 600+ Km).

An H2 and/or bio-ethanol station every 600+ Km or so would not be a very costly solution. They could be co-located with quick charging e-facilities for double benefits.

Getting rid of gasoline/diesel ICEs (with their GHG and pollution) would be worth an extra few dollars?

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