CRESCENDO has the specific objective of developing highly active and long-term stable electrocatalysts of non-PGM catalysts for the PEMFC cathode and the re-design of the cathode catalyst layer on which very little systematic research has been done to date, so as to reach the project target power density of 0.42 W/cm2 at 0.7 V initially in small and ultimately full-size single cells. It also intends to develop non-PGM or ultra-low PGM anode catalysts with greater tolerance to CO and H2S impurities than current low Pt loaded anodes. The project builds on previous achievements in non-PGM catalyst development within all of the university and research organisation project partners. It benefits from the unrivalled know-how in catalyst layer development at JMFC and the overarching expertise at BMW in cell and stack testing and in guiding the materials development to align with systems requirements.
The specific objectives of the project are therefore to:

  • Progress research and development on non-PGM fuel cell catalysts, develop methodologies and diagnostic methods for the characterisation of their active site density and turnover frequency and realise successful approaches for the stabilisation on operation of non-PGM cathode catalysts.
  • Demonstrate manufacturing scalability for a down-selected non-PGM cathode catalyst having successfully passed the project intermediate stage-gates and reached the project targets.
  • Analyse the reasons why current non-PGM cathode catalyst layers are not adapted and lead to high losses beside kinetic losses, and use the learning to rationally re-design the composition and configuration of the catalyst layer.
  • Advance research on non-PGM and ultra-low PGM hydrogen oxidation catalysts with the objective of demonstrating greater poison (CO, H2S) tolerance than current low Pt loaded anodes and in the case of success integrate them to give a complete non-PGM MEA (anode and cathode).
  • Demonstrate the ability of the finally configured MEA to achieve 0.42 W/cm2 at 0.7 V and 1000 h operation with less than 30% power degradation at 1.5 A/cm2 over an operationally-relevant drive cycle.
  • Provide a cost analysis study that assesses the feasibility of novel non-PGM cathode MEAs for automotive application.

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