BEST4Hy project kicks off to recover rare critical materials in fuel cells

The kick-off meeting that launched the activities of the Best4Hy  project (SustainaBlE SoluTions FOR recycling of end-of-life Hydrogen technologies) took place online between 19 and 20 January 2021. The project was funded by the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen 2 Joint Undertaking under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research programme.

Envipark is BEST4Hy coordinator and will be involved in the implementation of actions related to all WPs of the project. In particular, it will coordinate the communication, dissemination and exploitation of results related to WP7. Furthermore, Envipark will manage the development operations of the training plan related to WP6 and will be involved in the analysis of deviations and stakeholder involvement.

The increase in demand for hydrogen technologies (fuel cells and electrolysers), although indicating a certain maturity of the same, poses a problem with respect to the disposal and more desirable recovery of critical materials, rare earths and expensive metals such as platinum, cobalt, nickel, lanthanum, which are essential for their development. The BEST4Hy project therefore aims to develop and validate recovery processes for two types of fuel cells: proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEM FC) and solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC).

With respect to PEMFCs, the project intends to readapt two recycling processes currently applied to other technologies, thus validating a new dismantling process.

On the other hand, for SOFC fuel cells, a combination of two existing processes will be tested and adapted for the new materials, and a “new” technology will be studied at laboratory level.

In order to demonstrate the efficiency of the whole process, the recovered components will be tested and validated both in terms of quality and performance directly by the cell manufacturers and then reused in new components and stacks (closed loop recycling). The entire project will also be monitored with respect to environmental impacts and economic spin-offs through the development of a cost-benefit analysis.

The BEST4Hy international consortium consists of industrial partners and research institutes: Environment Park SpA – coordinator, CEA Liten (France), Politecnico di Torino (Italy), Hensel Recycling Gmbh (Germany), Elringklinger AG (Germany), Aktsiaselts Elcogen (Estonia), RINA Consulting SpA (Italy), University of Ljubljana (Slovenia).