New harmonized test protocols for PEM fuel cells in hydrogen vehicles

March 29, 2016
PEM fuel cells are characterised with high energy density, low operating temperature and high efficiency. Credit: © EU, 2015

A lack of standards for testing polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cells - the most attractive type of fuel cells for powering vehicles - has hampered objective comparative assessment of their performance and durability under operating conditions and hence of their technological progress. By proposing a test methodology including a set of representative operating conditions and getting European industry and research stakeholders to agree on it, the JRC has helped fill the gap.

The resulting harmonised test protocols allow the evaluation of the performance and durability of PEM fuel cells by focusing on the membrane-electrode assemblies (MEA), which constitute the heart of a .

Fuel cells generate electricity by combining hydrogen fuel and an oxidant (oxygen or air) electrochemically in a more energy-efficient and environment-friendly way than today´s modern combustion-based power technologies. However, to enhance performance and durability and reduce costs is still required. Among all fuel cell types the (PEM) fuel cells are the most promising for powering vehicles due to their high energy density, low operating temperature and high efficiency.

The protocols, described in a recent JRC report: EU harmonised test protocols for PEMFC MEA testing in single cell configuration for automotive applications, were established through a sustained cooperation with industry and research organisations participating in R&I projects for automotive applications, funded by the European Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH-JU). The latter is an industry-led public private partnership (PPP) supporting the technological development of fuel cell and hydrogen energy technologies in Europe. The report specifies reference operating conditions and boundaries within which a cell is expected to operate. The harmonised test methodology enables investigating the influence of individual operating parameters on MEA performance, including when subjected to more challenging boundary conditions also called "stressor conditions". The latter cover load cycling, mechanical effects, fuel and air contaminants (impurities) and environmental conditions.

New harmonized test protocols for PEM fuel cells in hydrogen vehicles
Fuel cell test input/output schematic Credit: © EU, 2015

The use of the protocols will facilitate a factual assessment of the technology status achieved by the relevant FCH-JU funded projects, thereby allowing improved target-setting, monitoring of progress, and evaluating the return-on-investment of public funding of R&I activities on automotive cells.

The US Department of Energy (DoE) Fuel Cell Technology Office and Asian car component manufacturers have expressed interest for the protocols.

Explore further: Alternative energy key to a greener future

Related Stories

Alternative energy key to a greener future

October 9, 2015

Los Alamos National Laboratory is leading a Department of Energy- Fuel Cells Technologies Office-funded project to enhance the performance and durability of polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cells, while simultaneously ...

Fuel cells show potential

March 20, 2012

National Physical Laboratory scientists have developed an innovative fuel cell reference electrode that has been used to map changes in electrode potential inside a working polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cell for ...

Membrane “nano-fasteners” key to next-generation fuel cells

November 9, 2015

Scientists at Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) have developed a new way of making fuel cell membranes using nanoscale fasteners, paving the way for lower-cost, higher-efficiency and more easily manufactured ...

Stronger, longer-lasting fuel cell technology

April 13, 2015

Manufacturers of low temperature fuel cells need solutions for improving the strength, durability and manufacturability of a key component, the membrane electrode assembly, or MEA.

Recommended for you

Making energy-harvesting computers reliable

October 28, 2016

A revolutionary and emerging class of energy-harvesting computer systems require neither a battery nor a power outlet to operate, instead operating by harvesting energy from their environment. While radio waves, solar energy, ...

Microsoft aims at Apple with high-end PCs, 3D software

October 26, 2016

Microsoft launched a new consumer offensive Wednesday, unveiling a high-end computer that challenges the Apple iMac along with an updated Windows operating system that showcases three-dimensional content and "mixed reality."


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.