Advent Technologies Holdings has reached an agreement with Airbus for a joint benchmarking project regarding an optimized Ion Pair Membrane Electrode Assembly (MEA) for hydrogen fuel cells.
Airbus will provide financial support to the project and its extensive knowledge of the aviation industry. Advent will invest in people, materials, hardware, and third-party research centers, to contribute to the goals of the project. The multi-million dollar collaboration will take place over two years.
The goal of the project is to accelerate the development of Advent’s MEA and benchmark the Ion Pair MEA against aviation requirements and current/expected technological limits.
HT-PEM MEAs operating at temperatures higher than 180 °C (360 °F) aim to solve one of the largest challenges in aviation fuel cell use: thermal management. High-temperature fuel cells allow increased performance, increased passenger carrying capability, and increased range compared to low-temperature fuel cell stack technology. Advent believes that HT-PEM is a superior option not only for aviation, but also for heavy-duty trucks, the automotive industry and marine use.
Advent’s high-temperature membrane is based on pyridine type structures incorporated around a stable polymer backbone. Advent also fabricates a polybenzimidazole (PBI) based MEA under a license from BASF. Advent’s PBI MEA uses the same materials and assembly processes as developed by BASF for the P1100W HT-MEA and has the highest phosphoric acid content of any of the high-temperature membranes. Both materials use phosphoric acid as the electrolyte, do not need water for conductivity, and are based on polymers with excellent thermal and oxidative stability.
The project will primarily focus on the needs for future hydrogen-fueled planes, while at the same time having the potential of significantly reducing the weight and volume of the powertrain system through a simplified balance of plant and cooling subsystems.
The project will be executed by Advent’s MEA team and closely monitored by Airbus. The project is expected to commence in January 2024.