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Contaminants

Material Screening Data Tool

NREL designed the interactive material screening data tool to help fuel cell developers and material suppliers explore the results of fuel cell system contaminants studies.

As automotive fuel cell research and development trends toward decreased catalyst loadings and thinner membranes, fuel cell operation becomes even more susceptible to contaminants. At NREL, we are researching system-derived contaminants and hydrogen fuel quality. Air contaminants are of interest as well. NREL also participates in the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) Fuel Cell Durability Working Group.

System-Derived Contaminants

Contaminants derived from fuel cell system component materials—structural materials, lubricants, greases, adhesives, sealants, and hoses—have been shown to affect the performance and durability of fuel cell systems. NREL is performing research to identify and quantify these system-derived contaminants and to understand the effects of system contaminants on fuel cell performance and durability. Our goal is to increase the understanding of fuel cell system contaminants and to help guide the implementation and, where necessary, development of system materials that will help enable fuel cell commercialization. Our initial focus has been on commercially available commodity materials with a range of costs. These materials are generally developed for other applications for which common additives/processing aids may not be a concern, but they may present problems for fuel cells.

System Contaminants Project Team

  • NREL
  • General Motors
  • University of South Carolina
  • University of Hawaii
  • Colorado School of Mines
  • Los Alamos National Laboratory
  • In-kind partners
    • 3M
    • Ballard Power Systems
    • Nuvera

Between July 2009 and September 2013, NREL led a team to study the effect of system contaminants on the performance and durability of polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells.

The team, made up of industry, university, and national laboratory partners, screened 62 balance of plant (BOP) materials using several screening methods. The materials are from different manufacturers, comprise different chemistries, and are used for different functions.

This project was funded by the Fuel Cell Technologies Office in DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

Function Description Chemical Description Manufacturer Trade Name Total Grades
Structural Plastic Polyamide (PA), polyphthalamide (PPA) (Nylon) DuPont, EMS, BASF, Solvay, Zytel, Grivory, Grilon, Grilamid, Ultramid, Amodel 26
Structural Plastic Polyphenylene sulfide (PPS) Chevron Phillips Ryton 4
Structural Plastic Polysulfone (PSU) Solvay UDEL 2
Structural Plastic Polyphenylsulfone (PPSU) Solvay RADEL 1
Structural Plastic Polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) DuPont Crastin 2
Structural Plastic Epoxy Sumitomo Bakelite 1
Structural Plastic Phenolic Sumitomo Bakelite 1
Lubricant/Grease Perfluoroalkylether/ polytetrafluoroethylene (PFAE/PTFE) DuPont Krytox 4
Adhesive/Seal Urethane 3M, Bostik, Henkel Marine, Loctite 6
Adhesive/Seal Silicone 3M Super silicone 2
Adhesive Epoxy 3M, Reltek Scotch Weld, Bond-IT 3
Adhesive Acrylic acrylate LORD LORD 1
Thread Lock/Seal Polyglycol dimethacrylate (PGDMA) Henkel Loctite 4
Hose Silicone VenAir Vena 3
Conformal Coating Acrylic TECHSPRAY Turbo-Coat 1
Ion Exchange Resin Polystyrene ResinTech MBD 1

NREL has designed an interactive material screening data tool to help fuel cell developers and material suppliers explore the results from these studies. Knowledge of the material contamination potential helps the fuel cell industry select proper BOP materials and perform cost-benefit analyses of system components.

The team also performed fundamental studies of selected organic model compounds.

Contact Huyen Dinh for more information on this project. You can also view related publications and presentations.