Platinum: Too Precious for Fuel Cell Vehicles? 2002-01-1896
One of the biggest barriers to commercialization of fuel cell vehicles is the high cost of materials and manufacturing of fuel cell components. Precious metal materials in the membrane electrode assemblies (MEAs) account for more than 17 percent of the total cost of polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cell systems. Precious metals such as platinum may also be required for fuel processing catalysts. The Department of Energy (DOE) is addressing the important issue of the cost of fuel cell components by supporting R&D projects aimed at improving the performance of fuel cells which would lead to reduced platinum loading, as well as developing low-cost automated industrial processes for the manufacture of electrodes and MEAs. Other projects include development of a supply-demand elasticity model. The long term reserves and availability of platinum is a serious issue facing the commercial viability of fuel cell vehicles. In the future, the supply of platinum is expected to be tight and it is critical for the platinum loading of fuel cell vehicles to be significantly reduced. These efforts must also be combined with good platinum management throughout society including widespread recycling. This paper also covers results from selected FY01 R&D projects to drive down platinum loading and lower the cost of MEAs. Also presented is a synopsis of the planned efforts of companies that were awarded R&D contracts in year 2001 for the development of components and processes for MEAs.