A major new European consortium, IMMORTAL, is developing higher performance fuel cell components for heavy duty trucks with a predicted lifetime of at least 30,000 hours.
IMMORTAL (IMproved lifetiMe stacks fOR heavy duty Trucks through ultrA-durabLe components) is a €3.8-million (US$4.6-million), three-year project supported by the European Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH 2 JU), which brings together a major consortium of industry leaders and academic/research organisations coordinated by France’s CNRS, and includes Johnson Matthey, Bosch, FPT Industrial and AVL.
IMMORTAL will develop exceptionally durable and high-power-density MEAs well beyond the current state of the art up to TRL4 by building on understanding of fuel cell degradation pathways specific to heavy-duty truck operation and developing lifetime prediction models from extensive real-life stack operation, accelerated stress test and load profile cycles on short stacks.
The specific objectives of the project are to:
Develop new materials concepts for world-leading components (electrocatalysts, membranes) by building mitigation strategies to fuel cell operation-induced degradation into their design to ensure both their activity and their stability, and improve the interfaces between them to minimize resistances;
Realize the potential of these components in MEAs by introducing novel electrode and MEA constructions to deliver a step-change in durability while exceeding 1.2 W/cm2 at 0.675 V;
Develop load profile tests for heavy-duty MEA performance and durability assessment, including input from real-life usage profiles from H2Haul; and
Validate the MEA performance and durability in full size cell short stacks using extended load profile testing and achieve a predicted lifetime of 30,000 hours.
The four large industrial partners of IMMORTAL are major stakeholders in Europe's fuel cell supply, OEM and end user chain, from MEA (Johnson Matthey) to stack (Bosch, AVL), and from stack and system (Bosch, FPT Industrial) to the pioneering use of the fuel cell powertrains in heavy-duty long haulage trucks (FPT Industrial).
Involved in the project are:
Johnson Matthey. Johnson Matthey, whose fuel cells business develops and manufactures fuel cell electrocatalysts, electrodes, membranes, and membrane electrode assemblies, will work on electrocatalyst and membrane components, and integrate them in catalyst-coated membranes with catalyst layers tailored for enhanced performance and heavy duty operation lifetime.
Bosch. Bosch, one of the world’s largest automotive suppliers, and developer and manufacturer of fuel cell systems, will develop cell and stack testing protocols to reflect realistic use in the field, as well as accelerated stress test protocols, and apply them to large size MEAs and short stacks.
FPT Industrial. FPT Industrial, the powertrain brand of CNH Industrial group, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of powertrains for commercial vehicles and leaders in the transition to electrification, will provide the industry system requirements and analysis leading to estimation of the IMMORTAL stack cost.
AVL. A second stack platform will be provided by AVL, the world’s largest privately owned and independent company for the development of powertrain systems.
CNRS Montpellier. CNRS Montpellier will lead the project and work on developing novel membrane reinforcement and reinforced membranes and electrocatalysts.
IMTEK. IMTEK, a research group at the University of Freiburg, will focus on understanding degradation mechanisms using chemical and structural techniques.
Pretexo. Pretexo will provide project management and communication support.
The IMMORTAL project receives funding from the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen 2 Joint Undertaking under grant agreement No 101006641. This Joint Undertaking receives support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program, Hydrogen Europe and Hydrogen Europe Research.