About the HotMEA consortium

The HotMEA Consortium was established with the aim to make a larger condensed effort in order to take the technology of high temperature PEM fuel cells (HT-PEMFC) to a higher level in terms of development and on the road to a commercial production. 

Some of the partners had previously carries out a number of projects through which this particular fuel cell technology had been established in Denmark with a significant and visible position internationally. I line with the general strong focus on energy research and development in Denmark it became clear that HT-PEMFC should now similarly to the other fuel cell tracks begin to develop in the direction of applications and the market. For this to be realistic significant efforts on the fundamental materials research level as well as on the development of manufacturing techniques was needed. HotMEA was meant to lift the Danish HT-PEMFC technology to a higher level on fundamentals, performance and manufacturing on cell level in particular but also via integration and testing in stacks. Moreover, an overall coordination of Danish HT-PEMFC activities and the execution of one or more events were central objectives.

The consortium was in effect for four years from April 2009 to March 2013. The main achievements on the materials and component level are:

  • A number of modified PBI based polymer materials (modified monomers, copolymers, blends and cross-liking) with higher strength and the ability to higher doping levels and consequently higher conductivity.
  • Increased oxidative stability of several materials.
  • A study on electrospun PBI for membranes was initiated.
  • Significantly improved stability of thermally cured membranes.
  • Implementation of the polyol method for catalyst preparation.
  • Implementation of RDE technique for catalyst characterization.
  • Test of more corrosion resistant supports for the platinum (including graphene).
  • Development of Pt alloy catalysts including a novel one of Pt-Si with promising properties for methanol and CO
  • Ion milled cross sectioning for SEM imaging of MEAs implemented.

The main achievements on the manufacturing level are:

  • Clarification of the patent situation for membranes, cells and stacks. The partners have a satisfactory freedom to operate.
  • Design and construction of a new polymer synthesis setup.
  • 80 fold increase in production capacity (from 10 g to 800 g PBI per batch)
  • 10 fold increase in quality (>95% of all batches are within QC specifi- cation (up from <10%)
  • High molecular weight PBI. 3-4 fold increase in membrane strength as compared to the original Celanese PBI used in previous projects before the synthesis became successful.
  • Automated ultrasonic spray process for electrodes on conveyer belt
  • Significant improvement of MEA performance as compared with the starting point.
  • MEA performance in line with the best international players.
  • Sub-gaskets develop to strengthen MEAs
  • MEA manufacturing rate 50 MEA’s/day (manual setup) i.e. 350/week.
  • Manufacturing route and process requirements for a capacity of 10.000 MEA’s/month analyzed.
  • Improved single cell lifetime demonstrated (measurements in project DuraPEM) from 5.000 h at 150°C, 0.2 mA/cm2 to 10 000 h at 160°C.
  • Original membrane casting by glass plate technology has been optimized to higher quality and capacity (10% scrap and 5 m2/week (scalable))
  • Design and construction of equipment for continuous membrane casting. Capacity > 100 m2/week.
  • 10 MEA batches delivered for stacking
  • Test of MEAs in stack by subcontractor, Serenergy (early in project)
  • Compression moulded thermally resistant bipolar plates for HT-PEMFC.
  • Over 350 plates manufactured.
  • 2 sealing concepts developed.
  • Reduction of end plate thickness and mass.
  • Stack tightness specifications met
  • 7 short stacks and 1 full stack (40 cells) built and tested.
  • Stack test at end-user.
  • 100 h stack test performed.

The main dissemination results are:

  • 21 papers in international peer reviewed journal with contributions from HotMEA. 4 additional papers are in progress.
  • 77 presentations were given at conferences and during visits.
  • 3 exhibitions at fairs/conferences
  • 22 other press appearances/releases

Two events were arranged and carries out in the framework of HotMEA. First a thematic day was held at DTU for at Danish audience 66 people attended of whom 11 gave invited presentations. The response was overwhelmingly positive. The second event was the 3rd Carisma International Conference (Carisma 2012) in Copenhagen. The conference had ca. 150 participants from 20 countries in five continents. The oral programme comprised 50 speakers of which 11 were invited. In addition there were 63 papers presented in two poster sessions. HotMEA was the main sponsor for the conference, which was nominated for “Congress Host of the Year” by the organization Wonderful Copenhagen.

HotMEA has not only had not only made very significant progress scientifically and on the component manufacturing as describe above. The effect of the condensed action and the critical mass has materialized in several other projects to continue the process. The lifting of the field of HT-PEMFC by HotMEA has most likely been decisive in attracting new projects, especially during the latter part of the project. It has constituted a strong and active basis for the following research proposals and made the HotMEA partners attractive for other constellations, including international. Close relations and beginning collaboration is established with several partners in South Korea (KIST, and several universities) and with MIT in Boston. Collaboration with Case Western Reserve University (Ohio) has been continued and several guest researchers from China have also made valuable contributions. Nationally, collaboration has been close with all other on-going projects ad- dressing HT-PEMC. Samples have been exchanged and knowledge transferred to a large extent.

One PhD student has been educated directly and others have benefitted via the collaboration with other projects. A number of students at DTU have carried out individual projects within the tasks of HotMEA and the project has also benefitted the general teaching of hydrogen and fuel cells at DTU.

21 FEBRUARY 2019