Performance and Cost of Automotive Fuel Cell Systems with Ultra-Low Platinum Loadings
An automotive polymer-electrolyte fuel cell (PEFC) system with ultra-low platinum loading (0.15 mg-Pt.cm−2) has been analyzed to determine the relationship between its design-point efficiency and the system efficiency at part loads, efficiency over drive cycles, stack and system costs, and heat rejection. The membrane electrode assemblies in the reference PEFC stack use nanostructrured, thin-film ternary catalysts supported on organic whiskers and a modified perfluorosulfonic acid membrane. The analyses show that the stack Pt content can be reduced by 50% and the projected high-volume manufacturing cost by >45% for the stack and by 25% for the system, if the design-point system efficiency is lowered from 50% to 40%. The resulting penalties in performance are a <1% reduction in the system peak efficiency; a 2-4% decrease in the system efficiency on the urban, highway, and LA92 drive cycles; and a 6.3% decrease in the fuel economy of the modeled hybrid fuel-cell vehicle on the combined cycle used by EPA for emission and fuel economy certification. The stack heat load, however, increases by 50% at full power (80 kWe) but by only 23% at the continuous power (61.5 kWe) needed to propel the vehicle on a 6.5% grade at 55 mph. The reduced platinum and system cost advantages of further lowering the design-point efficiency from 40% to 35% are marginal. The analyses indicate that thermal management in the lower efficiency systems is very challenging and that the radiator becomes bulky if the stack temperature cannot be allowed to increase to 90-95oC under driving conditions where heat rejection is difficult.