The last General Assembly of the BEST4Hy project was held in Turin, where all the partners gathered to discuss on the last research results before the summer and plan the next activities for the coming year. The meeting provided a positive report with mid-term results coming more and more closer to the BEST4Hy final objectives of recycling technologies optimisation for hydrogen fuel cells at their EoL.
From the PEM side, Hensel Recycling is finalising the optimisation of the fuel cells mechanical dismantling process and is currently working on the hydrometallurgical treatment (HTM) mainly, improving the HTM yield until 93%, overcoming with success the set goal of 90%. The investigation of the ionomer recovery by IDO-Lab is still ongoing with the analysis of samples treated with alcohol dissolution in pressure vessel at 120°C, while schemes of the TRL5 prototype has been started to be developed. The system will separate ionomer solution and Pt ink, which will be recovered separately via centrifuge and subjected to purity tests for subsequent reuse.
First results are also coming from the innovative electro leaching and electrodeposition treatment, proposed by CEA, which has been tested on both GDE and CCM membrane to recover metallic Pt. The technology shows good results in terms of high level of material recovered in only one single process. It shows to be also an environmental-friendly treatment, which is ready for the up-scale at this time: no use of organic solvents, neither acid substances or emission of taxic gases. For what concern the synthesis of Pt/C catalyst, further research has been lead focusing on three main synthesis and considering the variety of catalyst production from commercial and recovered Pt salt. The results of the catalyst characterizations show that the best method identified is the polyol synthesis using different recycled Pt salt (from Hensel Recycling) coming from aged MEA up to 7000 h (from EKPO). The process is selected for a first preliminary scale-up step for the synthesis of around 1-2 g of catalyst, with the aim to synthetize up to 10-15 g of catalyst to manufacture large MEA at EKPO design.
To follow, POLITO updates the Consortium on its SOC research activities. The design and pilot construction (TRL5), based on the lab-scale results for the anode recovery process, is proceeding. The delay affecting the market is causing some issues, but the reactor and related components are expected to be available by the end of September. Meanwhile, a strong collaboration with Elcogen is aiming to integrate the recovered materials into the production system. Trials are carried on using 300 grams of recycled NiO/YSZ from scrap cells, provided from POLITO to ELCOGEN in order to simulate the thick substrate slurry preparation process for tape casting, containing up to 30% of recycled material.
Based on the literature consultation, POLITO is also advancing some trials to explore the novel LSC materials recovery processes from SOC: a first mechanical detachment, followed by three different lixiviation techniques, then recovery and characterisation to compare the different processes. Final results show to be better than literature with promising development of the open loop recycling process into the market, whose needs and requirement should be further explored.
Coming to the horizontal activities, the University of Ljubljana is performing LCA analysis in FCH manufacturing and existing EoL technologies. Several internal meetings are foreseen with partners to set up or improve necessary inventories and model the novel end-of-life phase in open and closed recycling loop. The life cycle inventory related to the results and the definition of the first guidelines for the LCC model started as well. Concerning the scaling-up of the BEST4Hy technologies, ENVIPARK is moving forward with the analysis of waste regulations, barriers and new approaches in EU and extra-EU countries, through the previous results from the sister project Hytechcycling and surveys disseminated by the Advisory Board members. Hensel Recycling, EKPO, Elcogen and H2 clusters are also involved in the process to better understand the international situation and the hydrogen market with specific focus on Japan, China, USA and Singapore. From its side, RINA showed the strategy to assess the BoM of materials characterising the FCH technologies and the standards analysis to develop the roadmap for the eco design and the EoL sustainability proposed by the project.
Each partner is also giving its relevant contributes for the dissemination of the last BEST4Hy progresses, thanks to the publications of scientific papers, video and the participation to international fairs and conferences. Two events to report will see BEST4Hy as organiser in the next months: the “International Conference and Expo on Recycling and Waste Management”, 09-10 November 2022, organised with sister projects eGHOST and SH2E; ECOMONDO fair, 08-11 November, where BEST4Hy will have visibility at the ENVIPARK company stand.
BEST4Hy Consortium at the GA in Turin, 21st -22nd June 2022
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Project Lead partner
Sabina Fiorot, PhD