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.