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Definition of Accelerated Stress Testing (AST) protocols deduced from understanding of degradation mechanisms of aged stack components in Fuel Cell systems

The objectives of this project dealing with either transport or energy pillars and PEMFC or SOFC technology may include:

(1) Identification of degradation mechanisms and quantification of degradation on aged stack components (bipolar plates, electrodes, gas diffusion layers, membranes, cells, sealing’s …) coming from FCH JU demonstration projects,

(2) development of advanced in situ and ex situ characterization techniques and accelerated stress test (AST) protocols, compatible to existing test station hardware, with the identification of transfer functions of the component degradation measured in an AST to real-world behavior of that component. For PEMFC technology, finalization and validation of the new single cell design initiated by the working group coordinated by JRC has to be taken into account. Proposal and validation of AST from materials to stack components and optionally stack level, the latter potentially more application specific when relevant,

(3) development of models related to degradation mechanisms, implementing models describing degradation mechanisms into performance models. Evaluation of the capability of performance/degradation models to confirm and quantify the accelerating impact by adapting some operating or load profiles should be considered.

A key requisite for the project is the certainty of acquisition of at least 6 aged samples of a given stack component (MEA for PEMFC or cell for SOFC, bipolar plate) of at least 3 different stacks and of the corresponding user profiles. Projects are open to any application (transport or stationary) and should focus on a fuel cell technology (PEMFC, SOFC). Therefore the relevant actors should be included in the consortium and/or letters of intent of the materials providers should be provided. Availability of comparable non aged materials or stack components should be envisioned to ensure relevant comparison between “real-world” ageing and ageing caused by selected AST.

Any safety-related event that may occur during execution of the project shall be reported to the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC), which manages the European hydrogen safety reference database, HIAD (dedicated mailbox

A collaboration mechanism needs to be developed with the JRC, in relation to the ongoing EU protocols harmonization and validation activities performed in support to the whole FCH2 JU program.

International collaboration through scientific exchanges or an advisory board with entities outside Europe (e.g. IPHE countries) investigating this field is highly recommended in so far proposals include a specific activity to frame and justify their work and its contribution within the international activity.

The FCH 2 JU considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of EUR 2.5 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected duration: 3 years

This approach addresses key aspects of interest for the industry related to durability particularly regarding the stack components as MEA or bipolar plates. Targeting the understanding of realistic failure modes and the development of ASTs that addresses those failure modes is a valuable contribution in order to shorten the development time of new materials to be integrated in the next system generation. Actually, ASTs will allow faster evaluation of new materials and provide a standardized test to benchmark materials and/or stack components, and will accelerate the development to meet cost (100€/kW @system for passenger cars in 2020 and between 1500 and 10000 €/kW for stationary fuel cells depending on their size in 2020) and durability targets (6,000h for automotive and 80,000h in stationary applications). While different ASTs are already available (DOE-FCTT, Japan-FCCJ but no European ones), there is still a lack of correlation or transfer function to “Real World” data. As far as PEMFC are concerned, AST on electrocatalyst is the most critical, AST for membrane and support appear consolidated but have been recently adapted by DOE and no tests are available for GDLs. AST depend both on the application and on the technology. Therefore specific AST have to be developed for PEMFC and SOFC stack components in different user profiles. For SOFC, first accelerated testing have been done, but they are less advanced than in PEMFC, and in all cases they will be different in terms of solicitations.

As of today, a growing number of FCH JU demonstration projects involving hydrogen technologies (buses, cars, stationary applications) are ongoing and expected in Europe. Some monitoring is in place providing feedback regarding evolution of the performance of the system in correlation with user profile. In order to retrieve most benefits from these past or on-going demonstration projects, it is important to link these evolutions to materials evolution with quantitative data for various usages.

  • Enhanced understanding of the correlation between user profile and degradation mechanisms on at least two stack components (gas diffusion layer, catalyst layer , membrane for PEMFC, cell for SOFC, bipolar plate and potentially its sealing) and its validation with models related to degradation mechanisms
  • Define updated testing hardware for PEMFC, testing methods and evaluation criterion / criteria to allow faster evaluation than current AST of new materials and standardised tests to benchmark materials on at least two stack components (gas diffusion layer, catalyst, membrane for PEMFC, cell for SOFC, , bipolar plate) with a quantified correlation or between AST results and lifetime in a user profile (transport, stationary)
  • Validation of the methodology (i.e. comparison and correlation between “real-world” behaviour and AST caused degradation) should be achieved owing to experimental and/or modelling results showing at least similar ranking between materials or stack components with a good correlation between quandtitative degradation features (to be selected such as performaces degradation rates, properties losses, microstucture modifications)
  • Provide recommendations about improvements of monitoring and tracking systems for future deployments in order to capitalise on return of experience.
  • Integration of the developed AST with the EU harmonized test protocols (for PEMFC). Final document with reference to existing global SoA AST, explaining differences and additional valuable information.
  • Recommendations for international standardisation of Accelerated Stress Testings within IEC TC105 which should lead to a New Working Item Proposal (NWIP)