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Laboratory of Grenoble for sciences of conception, optimisation and production
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Recycling of membrane electrode assemblies (MEAs) of the PEMFC

Problematic


Globally, the need for energy is rapidly growing and it is thus necessary to develop new solutions for the energy production in order to satisfy this demand. Actually, renewable energy sources are more and more used to meet this demand; nevertheless they cannot ensure a stable energy production. However, the electrochemical energy storage, in the form of hydrogen, can be used to overcome the fluctuations caused by the weather conditions. Fuel cells, such as Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cells (PEMFC), produce electricity and heat from dihydrogen and oxygen, whereas the only by-product is water. The redox reactions involved are catalyzed by the platinum nanoparticles present in the electrodes of the PEMFC. Taking into account the cost of this metal and its limited resources, it is necessary to develop an efficient recycling process for the end-of-life fuel cells.

The main objective of this work is to study the feasibility of the recycling of membrane electrode assemblies (MEAs) of the PEMFC and to assess the environmental impact of this process.

The major part of this research is devoted to the laboratory development and optimization of the Pt particles recovery process from the electrodes of the PEM fuel cells.


PhD Student: Lucien DUCLOS
Grenoble University, Octobre 2013 – Octobre 2016
Directors: Guillaume MANDIL (GSCOP), Pierre-Xavier THIVEL and Lenka SVECOVA (LEPMI), Valérie LAFOREST (Mines Saint-Etienne).
Partners:         

Research Process


At first, the efficiency of several Pt recovery methods was tested at the laboratory scale. The obtained experimental data were used to assess the environmental impacts of the tested recovery methods using the life cycle assessment (LCA) method. The developed LCA model is now regularly updated with the most recent experimental results obtained in the optimization step.

Expected Results


The most promising Pt recovery method at the laboratory scale will be then scaled-up to a pilot scale. Recovery of other materials from the MEA might also be studied.
Finally, based on the experimental results and the LCA analysis some guidelines can be proposed to improve the fuel cells’ design in order to facilitate the recycling step at their end-of-life.
Update: 04/032015

Date of update March 4, 2015

Univ. Grenoble Alpes