Precious Metal Recovery from Fuel Cell MEA's

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One of the next-generation power sources is the proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell, which runs on pure hydrogen or hydrogen-rich reformate. At the heart of the PEM fuel cell is a membrane electrode assembly (MEA). The MEA is a laminate composed of electrode layers sandwiched between outer layers, fabricated from either carbon fiber or fabric and which control the diffusion of reactant gases, and the inner polymer mebrane. Hydrogen is oxidized at the anode to form protons, which migrate through the membrane and react with oxygen at the cathode to form water. In this type of fuel cell, platinum ... continued below

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Shore, Lawrence November 16, 2006.

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One of the next-generation power sources is the proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell, which runs on pure hydrogen or hydrogen-rich reformate. At the heart of the PEM fuel cell is a membrane electrode assembly (MEA). The MEA is a laminate composed of electrode layers sandwiched between outer layers, fabricated from either carbon fiber or fabric and which control the diffusion of reactant gases, and the inner polymer mebrane. Hydrogen is oxidized at the anode to form protons, which migrate through the membrane and react with oxygen at the cathode to form water. In this type of fuel cell, platinum catalyzes the reactions at both electrodes. Realization of a future that includes ubiquitous use of hydrogen fuel cell-powered vehicles will be partially contingent on a process for recycling components of the fuel cell membrane electrode assemblies. In aggregate, the platinum used for the fuel cell will represent a large pool of this precious metal, and the efficient recycling of Pt from MEA's will be a cost-enabling factor for success of this technology. Care must be taken in the reclamation process because of the presence of fluoropolymers in the MEA. While Pt is normally recovered with high yield, the combustion process commonly applied to remove an organic matrix will also liberate a large volume of HF, a gas which is both toxic and corrosive. Carbonyl fluoride, which has a recommended exposure limit of 2ppmv, is another undesirable product of fluoroploymer combustion. In 2003, the Department of Energy awarded Engelhard Corporation an 80% cost share grant for a five-year project budgeted at $5.9MM. The principal objective is reclaiming platinum from fuel cell MEA's without producing fluorine-containing emissions. Over the last three years, Engelhard has approached the problem from several directions in balancing the two goals: a commercially-viable recycling process and an environmentally favorable one. Working with both fresh and aged fuel cells, it has been shown that precious metals can be liberated at high yield using microwave assisted acid digestion, but exposure of the gas diffusion electrode surfaces is required. A low-cost solvent-stripping process has been identified for two geometries of fuel cell MEA's: GDL and GDE. This paper will detail progress made in realizing a practical, "green" process for recovery of Pt from PEM fuel cell MEA's

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  • AIChE 2006 Annual Meeting, San Francisco,CA, 11/12/2006-11/17/2006

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  • Report No.: DOE/GO13104-1
  • Grant Number: FC36-03GO13104
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 962698
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc932980

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  • November 16, 2006

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  • Nov. 13, 2016, 7:26 p.m.

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Shore, Lawrence. Precious Metal Recovery from Fuel Cell MEA's, article, November 16, 2006; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc932980/: accessed July 20, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.