In 1999, the Society of Automotive Engineers established a Committee for Fuel Cell Standards. The Committee is organized in subcommittees that address issues such as Safety, Performance, and Recycling. The mission of the Recycling Subcommittee is to develop a recommended practice document that incorporates existing recycling practices and identifies technical and environmental sustainability issues and applies them to proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell (FC) systems.
Recyclability is best considered early in the product engineering design/development process. The design engineer should be concerned with the product after its useful life and adopt a mindset of designing for disassembly and recycling.
The purpose of this SAE Recommended Practice document is to provide a tool that helps the FC system designers and engineers incorporate recyclability into the PEM FC design process. This document was derived by considering existing recycling recommended practices then applying them to assess and evaluate the recyclability of the PEM FC system. This document should be used to continually assess the recyclability of component and assembly designs during the early design phase, in order to reach optimized recyclability, recycled content, and minimized environmental impact associated with those designs. This document defines a PEM FC rating system that assesses the ease of removal of the PEM FC system and/or components from a vehicle; then upon removal from the vehicle, the ease of recycling those components and materials. The derived rating is used as a PEM FC component design tool for continual improvement opportunities and not for purposes of calculating recyclability of the entire vehicle. While other trade-offs such as mass, piece-cost, volume, etc. must also be considered when designing these systems, they are not discussed in this document.
While there are various types of Fuel Cell architectures being developed, the focus of this document is on Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cell stacks and ancillary components for automotive propulsion applications. Within the boundaries of this document are the: Fuel Supply and Storage, Fuel Processor, Fuel Cell Stack, and Balance of Plant, as shown.