Sluggish kinetics in the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) require significant quantities of expensive Pt-based nanoparticles on carbon (Pt/C) at the cathode of proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs). This catalyst requirement hinders their large-scale implementation. Single atom Fe in N-doped C (Fe-N-C) electrocatalysts offer the best non-Pt-based ORR activities to date, but their environmental impacts have not been studied and their production costs are rarely quantified. Herein, we report a comparative life-cycle assessment and techno-economic analysis of replacing Pt/C with Fe-N-C at the cathode of an 80 kW PEMFC stack. In the baseline scenario (20 g(Pt/C)vs. 690 g(Fe-N-C)), we estimate that Fe-N-C could reduce damages on ecosystems and human health by 88-90% and 30-44%, respectively, while still increasing global warming potential by 53-92% and causing a comparable impact on resource depletion. The environmental impacts of Pt/C predominantly arise from the Pt precursor while those of Fe-N-C are presently dominated by the electricity consumption. The monetized costs of environmental externalities for both Fe-N-C and Pt/C catalysts exceed their respective direct production costs. Based on catalyst performance with learning curve analysis at 500 000 PEMFC stacks per annum, we estimate replacing Pt/C with Fe-N-C would increase PEMFC stack cost from 13.8 to 41.6 USD per kW. The cost increases despite a reduction in cathode catalyst production cost from 3.41 to 0.79 USD per kW (excluding environmental externalities). To be cost-competitive with a Pt-based PEMFC stack delivering 2020 US Department of Energy target of 1160 mW cm(-2) (at 0.657 V), the same stack with an Fe-N-C cathode would need to reach 874 mW cm(-2), equivalent to a 200% performance improvement. These findings demonstrate the need for continued Fe-N-C activity development with sustainable synthesis routes in mind to replace Pt-based cathode catalyst in PEMFCs. Based on forecasting scenarios of fuel cell vehicle deployment targets, we find that Pt consumption would be constrained by Pt supply.

Comparative techno-economic and life-cycle analysis of precious versus non-precious metal electrocatalysts: The case of PEM fuel cell cathodes

Grazia Leonzio;
2023-01-01

Abstract

Sluggish kinetics in the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) require significant quantities of expensive Pt-based nanoparticles on carbon (Pt/C) at the cathode of proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs). This catalyst requirement hinders their large-scale implementation. Single atom Fe in N-doped C (Fe-N-C) electrocatalysts offer the best non-Pt-based ORR activities to date, but their environmental impacts have not been studied and their production costs are rarely quantified. Herein, we report a comparative life-cycle assessment and techno-economic analysis of replacing Pt/C with Fe-N-C at the cathode of an 80 kW PEMFC stack. In the baseline scenario (20 g(Pt/C)vs. 690 g(Fe-N-C)), we estimate that Fe-N-C could reduce damages on ecosystems and human health by 88-90% and 30-44%, respectively, while still increasing global warming potential by 53-92% and causing a comparable impact on resource depletion. The environmental impacts of Pt/C predominantly arise from the Pt precursor while those of Fe-N-C are presently dominated by the electricity consumption. The monetized costs of environmental externalities for both Fe-N-C and Pt/C catalysts exceed their respective direct production costs. Based on catalyst performance with learning curve analysis at 500 000 PEMFC stacks per annum, we estimate replacing Pt/C with Fe-N-C would increase PEMFC stack cost from 13.8 to 41.6 USD per kW. The cost increases despite a reduction in cathode catalyst production cost from 3.41 to 0.79 USD per kW (excluding environmental externalities). To be cost-competitive with a Pt-based PEMFC stack delivering 2020 US Department of Energy target of 1160 mW cm(-2) (at 0.657 V), the same stack with an Fe-N-C cathode would need to reach 874 mW cm(-2), equivalent to a 200% performance improvement. These findings demonstrate the need for continued Fe-N-C activity development with sustainable synthesis routes in mind to replace Pt-based cathode catalyst in PEMFCs. Based on forecasting scenarios of fuel cell vehicle deployment targets, we find that Pt consumption would be constrained by Pt supply.
2023
oxygen reduction; free catalysts; impact; optimization; cost
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11584/391943
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