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Polymer Electrolytes and Non Noble Metal Electrocatalysts for High Temperature PEM Fuel Cells

Final Report Summary - APOLLON-B (Polymer Electrolytes and Non Noble Metal Electrocatalysts for High Temperature PEM Fuel Cells)

Within the frame of the APOLLON-B project the research was focused on the development of materials for high temperature polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cells which can be functional within the temperature range of 160-200 degrees Celsius. Within the frame of the, APOLLON-B project the research was focused on the development of materials for high temperature PEM fuel cells which can be functional within the temperature range of 160-200 degrees Celsius. Their application in high temperature PEM fuel cells will permit their efficient operation under H2/H2 reformate fuel aiming to power densities of the order of 0.15-0.4 W/sq.cm at a cell voltage ranging between 0.7-0.5 V and significantly reduced manufacturing cost of the membrane electrodes assembly.

Hydrogen and fuel cells will open the way to integrated 'open energy systems' that simultaneously address all of the major energy (security, economic competitiveness) and environmental challenges (air quality, greenhouse gas reduction), while having the flexibility to adapt to the diverse energy sources that will be available in the Europe of the future. Among the several types of fuel cells, PEM fuel cells have the highest potential for market penetration addressing both stationary and mobile applications.

The most popular PEM fuel cell technology is based on nation polymer proton conductor sandwiched between two gas diffusion electrodes, which are mainly based on nano-structured Pt/C supported electrocatalysts. However, the high cost of Nahon and the constrains set because of their low operating temperature (CO poisoning, ineffective exploitation of heat produced) urge towards the design and development of materials (polymer electrolytes and electrocatalysts) which will allow the operation of PEM fuel cells at temperatures ranging within 130-200 degrees Celsius.

The successful implementation of the project demanded the integration and combination of several methodologies including theoretical calculations and several physicochemical methods, as well as engineering aspects and technical substantiation.

The major achievements of the project can be summarised as follows:
- Synthesis optimisation and production of new phosphoric acid polymer membranes based on pyridine units containing aromatic polyethers and ABPBI based polymers. These materials can be used as proton conductors at temperatures as high as 200 degrees Celsius. %- Nano-structured Pt based alloys with Co and Cu which are used as electrocatalysts containing minimal amount of Pt. They can be up to fivefold more active than conventional Pt electrodes.
- Manufacture of state of the art MEAs with new high temperature carbon composite bipolar plates for high temperature stack assembly that can operate at 200 degrees Celsius.

In addition, significant scientific research was conducted on non noble metal electrocatalysts based on FeN/C, on the investigation of new electrolytes based on ionic liquids imbibed polymeric membranes and theoretical modelling so that a better insight and understanding has been achieved regarding the catalytic activity and compatibility of perovskites and FeN containing graphene type C structures for the cathodic oxygen reduction reaction.

The APOLLON-B partnership had advanced knowledge, techniques and expertise in the field of high temperature PEM fuel cells that can provide significant progress and innovative solutions in efficient and low-cost PEM membrane electrode assemblies. The APOLLON-B consortium was able to conduct efficient and systematic research in the above mentioned fields throughout the three years of its duration. This, together with the excellent collaboration between the partners, led the consortium to meet the required milestones and the scientific criteria that will enable the commercialisation of the technology in the near future.

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