R&D project speeds up market entry of fuel cell cars

June 23, 2016 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
There are increasing signs that fuel cells will get going in the next future. Besides Daimler’s electrification program, one of these signs is the Inspire R&D program, supported by a grant of € 7 million from the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU). This project will validate the next generation of automotive fuel cell stack technology and accelerate the commercialization of fuel cell-driven cars that combine zero emission with high performance.

Project partners are carmaker BMW, materials technology provider SGL Carbon, British chemical technology company Johnson Matthey, the Technical universities of Berlin and Munich as well as the University of Freiburg and the Finnish research center VTT.


Johnson Matthey has been developing and supplying state-of-the-art membrane electrode assemblies (MEAs) that are a key component of an automotive fuel cell. The London-based company will lead a major European consortium to develop higher performance, longer lifetime MEAs for integration into innovative, high power output fuel cell stack technology. The MEA is the most critical component of automotive fuel cells, influencing their power output, efficiency, lifetime and cost.


Johnson Matthey will work in close collaboration with its industrial and academic partners to bring forward materials and components already showing considerable promise in current FCH JU projects, integrate them for enhanced performance and demonstrate their capability to be manufactured in volume. BMW will set out the requirements for the stack and assemble the MEAs and bipolar plates into new stack designs aimed at achieving the cost, durability and volumetric power density targets required for mass market exploitation.


The three-year project got off to a great start as representatives from the partners and the FCH JU gathered at Johnson Matthey's Technology Centre, near Reading, UK, on 9 th/10th May to launch the project and develop the detailed plans for its first phase. As well as realising the potential of advanced stack materials and components and validating them in the next generation of automotive fuel cell stacks, the project will consolidate a European supply chain for these critical fuel cell stack components and increase the competitiveness of the European fuel cell industry on the world stage.


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