EU project "BEST4Hy" receives "Best Success Story Award"
EKPO Fuel Cell Technologies (EKPO) was awarded the "Best Success Story Award 2021" as a partner in the research project "BEST4Hy" (SustainaBlE SoluTions FOR recycling of end-of-life Hydrogen technologies) during the European Hydrogen Week. Specifically, EKPO provided insights into the adaptation and redevelopment of recycling technologies for PEM fuel cell stacks. The award was presented by René Schutte, Chair and Hydrogen Europe Board Member of the "Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking", a public-private funding project to support research, technological development and demonstration in the field of fuel cell and hydrogen technologies.
Hydrogen applications are enjoying increasing public interest. Ensuring that the technology is as sustainable as possible requires continuous optimization of the complete product cycle - from design to disposal. For innovative approaches regarding the adaptation and new development of recycling technologies - especially PEM fuel cells - "Best4Hy" and thus EKPO as project partner has now been awarded on EU level. "Our goal was to maximize the recycling rates of valuable materials, such as PGMs (Platinum Group Metals) from PEM fuel cells (after their service life). In addition, increasing cost efficiency and evaluating recycling processes using LCC (Life Cycle Costing) and LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) were on the agenda," says EKPO managing director Dr. Gernot Stellberger, describing the project goals. "We were able to make important contributions to this through our industrial experience as well as our know-how in fuel cell technology. That our products leave as ecological a footprint as possible even after their useful life - that's something we attach great importance to."
As demand for green technologies increases, fuel cells are being used in more and more applications. At the end of their useful life, the modules eventually enter the disposal cycle, which requires sustainable treatment. To date, however, research initiatives have concluded that there are very few examples of viable, upscaled technologies for recovering and recycling critical raw materials from fuel cells and electrolyzers.
"BEST4Hy" aims to raise the recycling processes for two of the most important fuel cell products, the PEM fuel cell (Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell) and solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) to a new level of technology maturity. The focus is on the (further) development of novel dismantling and recovery processes with regard to quality, scalability and value retention.
EKPO supports the project with existing expertise in the field of PEM fuel cells. "First and foremost, we provided various components for the development of the recycling concept, as well as relevant information for the LCC and LCA based on our industry experience. Core elements also form the construction and testing of stacks with recycled components and the development of an associated test protocol. This proves that the quality of the recycled materials is maintained," explains Dr. Joachim Scherer, Head of Product Engineering Components at EKPO.
The international "BEST4Hy" consortium is made up of industrial partners and research institutes: Environment Park SpA (Italy), CEA Liten (France), Politecnico di Torino (Italy), Hensel Recycling GmbH (Germany), EKPO Fuel Cell Technologies GmbH (Germany), Aktsiaselts Elcogen (Estonia), RINA Consulting SpA (Italy), University of Ljubljana (Slovenia). It is supported by the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation program, Hydrogen Europe and Hydrogen Europe research.
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About EKPO Fuel Cell Technologies
EKPO Fuel Cell Technologies (EKPO), headquartered in Dettingen/Erms (Germany), is a leading joint venture in the development and large-scale production of fuel cell stacks for CO2-neutral mobility. The company is a full-service supplier for fuel cell stacks and components used in passenger cars, light commercial vehicles, trucks, buses, as well as in train and marine applications. Within this context, the company is building on the industrialization expertise of two established international automotive suppliers - ElringKlinger and Plastic Omnium.
The aim of the joint venture is to develop and mass-produce high-performance fuel cell stacks in order to further advance CO2-neutral mobility - whether on the road, rail, water or off-road.