Development of the World's First Commercial Non-Precious Metal Catalyst-Based Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell Stack

D. Banham, K. Takeaki, T. Sato, Y. Kobayashi, S. Ye
Ballard Power Systems,

Keywords: fuel cell, fuel cell stack


Over the past decade, enormous improvements in the inherent activity of M/N/C (M=Fe, Co, or Mn) non-precious metal catalyst (NPMCs) have been achieved[1,2]. Despite these advances, NPMCs still require significant development before they can be considered for automotive applications. Due to their far less demanding requirements, portable power and backup power applications may offer a near-term commercialization target for NPMCs. Thus, we targeted portable power applications as an ideal entry point for NPMCs into the commercial proton exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMFC) market. However, despite many researchers showing excellent performance under H2/O2, the performance of all previously reported NPMC-based MEAs was too low even for portable power when tested under industrially relevant conditions (H2/air). In this presentation, we will review some of the key advances in cathode catalyst layer development that enabled us to achieve a record power density of 570 mW/cm2 under H2/air[6]. This includes improvements to both H+ and O2 transport. In addition, we will discuss some of the most recent hypotheses for NPMC instability, and present our views on which mechanisms are most critical to this failure mode. Finally, we will discuss our successful commercialization of the World's First NPMC-based PEMFC product, which was made possible through advances in both catalyst and catalyst layer development. We will provide specifications for this product (power, lifetime, etc.), and discuss our future plans for integrating NPMCs into additional Ballard products. Acknowledgements The authors would like to acknowledge Yingjie Zhou, Emil Marquez and Kyoung Bai for their great assistance with the experimental work. We would also like to thank Dr. Rajesh Bashyam, Dr. Ping He, Alan Young, and Shanna Knights for many helpful discussions. References [1] E. Proietti, F. Jaouen, M. Lefèvre, N. Larouche, J. Tian, J. Herranz and J.-P. Dodelet, Nature Communications, 2 (2011) [2] A. Serov, K. Artyushkova, E. Niangar, C. Wang, N. Dale, F. Jaouen, M.-T. Sougrati, Q. Jia, S. Mukerjee and P. Atanassov, Nano Energy, 16, 293 (2015). [3]G. Wu, K. L. More, C. M. Johnston and P. Zelenay, Science, 332, 443 (2011).