Workpackage 1: Project Management
D.1.1 – TRUST reporting 2019 - CONFIDENTIAL
Annual data reporting (TRUST) has been completed for GAIA for the template: Fuel cell research at stack level or lower.
D.1.2 – Project shared workspace implemented and operational - CONFIDENTIAL
To fulfil two fundamental internal project communication requirements: i) efficient exchange between partners of information about GAIA project ii) decentralised and secured archiving of the documents generated, one independent and secured web-based communication tool: Project Shared Workplace – PSW has been implemented with a restricted access for project partners only. Among all the functionalities installed on this PSW, for now partners have a total access to the following tools:
    • Document sharing and archiving
    • Meeting organization
    • General project communication
    • Online working document
The PSW maintenance is therefore an on-going activity that will go along with the project lifetime
D.1.3 – Mid-term report submitted - CONFIDENTIAL

Parts A and B of the RP1 progress reporting were submitted on 10th September 2020.


  Workpackage 2: Requirements, Test Methods and Operating Conditions, Benchmarking, Cost   assessment
D.2.1 – Fuel cell operation conditions, performance and durability requirements - CONFIDENTIAL
For the use of Membrane-Electrode-Assemblies in future automotive fuel cell systems, the definition of the operating conditions for an efficient and fast development process is crucial. Therefore, Deliverable D2.1 in a very detailed form
describes the operating conditions based on virtual fuel cell systems for FCEV. The focus lies on the transfer of fuel cell system operating conditions to available state-of-the-art test rigs located at the individual project partners to obtain fuel cell system relevant results.
D.2.2 – Decision on bipolar plate hardware and recommendation on small scale test cell Hardware to be used - CONFIDENTIAL
The requirements and testing protocols defined in Deliverable D2.1 and in Deliverable D2.3 have to be verified by in situ testing in appropriate cell hardware by systematic test cycles. For this reason, publically available information from other EU FCH JU funded projects (Autostack-Core, INSPIRE, VOLUMETRIQ) was collected and rated according to the needs of GAIA, described in D2.1. Based on this information the decision for automotive stack hardware setup was made with the project partners ZSW and JMFC. Cell hardware for 50 cm² cell testing, especially the flow field design, was shared with JMFC, TUM and CNRS.
D.2.3 – Test protocols defined and documents issued. Baseline characterisation of state of the art automotive MEAs in full size FC hardware completed - PDF
Test protocols for the GAIA Project and documents for the partners for testing are released. The state of the art cells were tested at BMW and the gap according to the project target is defined. Especially at operating points with low current densities the defined project target is reached within 95% of the actual performance. At operating points with high current densities the gap to the project target is much higher and the focus of the GAIA project will be on the increase of the performance at this operating conditions.

   Workpackage 3: Ionomer, Reinforcement and Membrane
D.3.1 – Baseline ionomer and reinforcement components delivered - PDF
This report identifies the reference membrane and catalyst layer ionomer, the baseline components comprising the baseline membrane, and the baseline catalyst layer ionomer. While “reference” refers here to materials that are already available and in use in industry, “baseline” refers to materials that are at a certain stage of development and that represent a starting point for the development work in GAIA.
D.3.2 – Supply of improved catalyst layer ionomer with increased O2 permeability - CONFIDENTIAL
Through modifications in the polymer structure, oxygen permeation can be increased of the perfluorosulfonic acid. With the proper modifications the oxygen permeation of the polymer was increased. The viscosity of the dispersions, along with other properties, was maintained as for unmodified PFSAs.
D3.3 – Supply of components for membrane after first material improvement and membrane fabrication with conventional manufacturing methods - CONFIDENTIAL
Development of new PBI blends for electrospun membrane reinforcements allowed the electrospinning output to be increased by a factor of three in comparison with the baseline material, and also gave significantly improved web quality. Using this new electrospun reinforcement type, membranes have been produced at CNRS that show excellent tensile properties.
D3.4 – Supply of components for membrane after second material improvement in line with target characteristics and novel membrane architecture - CONFIDENTIAL
A second generation of material improvement has been brought into GAIA membranes through the use of an alternative ionomer from 3M/Dyneon. This ionomer has been coated into polybenzimidazole-type reinforcements of two different basis weights to produce GAIA membrane types 9 and 10 of thickness 14 and 10 μm respectively. For the first time in an upscaled membrane, an architecture approaching that developed at laboratory scale at was achieved in the second of these membranes, with electrospun web expansion relative to the membrane thickness. Membrane 9 has higher tensile strength than the equivalent made with an ePTFE-type reinforcement, and further ex situ and in situ characterisation of membranes 9 and 10 is being pursued.

   Workpackage 4: Catalyst Support and Catalyst Design
D4.1 - Characterisation method for ionomer-support interaction strength developed - PDF
In catalyst inks for PEM fuel cell applications, the interaction carbon support starts at the ink making step and can influence final catalyst layer, including ionic conductivity and mass improve understanding of the way carbon supports and typical interact, this deliverable report summarises attempts to technique capable of quantifying the strength of the interaction.
CNRS have validated ITC as being a straightforward method to of the ionomer-carbon interaction. The method is sufficiently discriminate between carbon samples with different degrees of by nitrogen and increasing the nitrogen content of the carbon heat of adsorption of Nafion® on the modified carbon.
At JMFC, changes in the zeta potential for a range of of how the solvent type and concentration govern the charge the ionomer and carbon support. It was clear that in aqueous dispersions of Nafion®, Vulcan XC72R had a weaker interaction with the ionomer than Ketjen EC300J, due to a lower (less positive) zeta potential.
For a straightforward quantification of ionomer-carbon interaction strength, the centrifuge method of measuring the amount of free ionomer was very successful and here it was shown that in mixed aqueous-alcohol dispersions, Vulcan XC72R had a stronger interaction with the ionomer than Ketjen EC300J, in agreement with the zeta potential results for the carbons in the same dispersant, but in contrast to the situation in a purely aqueous system.
Fluorine-NMR was found to be less straightforward as a way to measure carbonionomer interaction strength in work at TUM. Despite reports in the literature, this work demonstrated that the signal-to-noise ratio was not sufficient to quantify the interaction at the low ionomer concentrations needed.
`In summary, four different techniques were explored, with three of them showing successful quantification of ionomer-support interactions, and the fourth still holding promise of a successful outcome. The early identification and implementation of these techniques within the GAIA project means that WP4 is in a strong position to deliver modified supports that will enable catalyst layers to be designed with the right properties to meet the challenging 1.8 W/cm2 target in the project.
D4.2 - Two candidate supports developed that show improved ionomer interaction strength, sufficient porous structure and improved corrosion resistance compared to the reference support - CONFIDENTIAL
The carbon support plays a crucial role in the performance and durability of fuel cell cathodes. The objective of GAIA Task 4.1 is the development of novel catalyst support structures and surfaces that can withstand high electrode potentials, whilst also possessing appropriate porosity and surface properties. CNRS’s approach consisted of modifying a range of carbon black surfaces with nitrogen-containing functionalities to enhance the anchoring of nanocatalysts and of ionomer. This report describes the identification of two candidate supports with improved ionomer interaction strength and corrosion resistance and adapted porosity compared to the reference support, Vulcan XC72R. For this initial down-selection, a range of analytical techniques were employed on pristine and modified carbon blacks to assess the target properties.
D4.3 - Demonstration of a catalytic entity showing 0.7 A/mgpt, in an MEA test and a surface area > 40 m2/gpt after 30,000 cycles from 0.6 to 0.925 V - PDF
Pt and Pt alloy oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) electrocatalysts have been further advanced in the first 18 months of the GAIA project. The project targets for the ORR catalyst were to achieve a mass activity (MA) of at least 0.7 A/mgPt within an MEA and to maintain a surface area of at least 40 m2/gPt after 30,000 cycles from 0.6 to 0.95 V.
At the start of the project, de-alloyed PtNi/C, octahedral PtNiIr/C and Pt-Rare Earth (RE) nanoparticle catalysts were identified as candidates to reach the project mass activity and surface area stability targets. TUB scaled up three octahedral PtNiIr/C catalyst variants from 20 mg to about 800 mg, at Pt loadings of 8% and 15% by weight on Vulcan XC72R carbon. The scaled octahedral PtNiIr/C alloys catalysts were evaluated in the rotating disk electrode (RDE) and demonstrated extremely high initial mass activities of up to 2.3 A/mgPt and electrochemical surface areas above 40 m2/gPt. Three of these catalyst variants were sent to JMFC for testing in 50 cm2 single cells but, unfortunately, in MEAs the MA was only about 0.30 A/mgPt. Work at JMFC on carbon-supported de-alloyed 50% PtNi catalysts led to material with an average particle size of 4.5 nm, as measured by transmission electron microscopy (TEM), and a surface area of about 65 m2/g Pt. Performance testing in 50 cm2 single cells gave a MA of 0.44 A/mgPt using a cathode loading of 0.20 mg Pt/cm2, but a formulation tested at a reduced cathode loading of
0.10 mg Pt/cm2 yielded an excellent MA of 0.89 A/mgPt. When this same catalyst was tested for durability in a 50 cm2 single cell using 30,000 cycles (0.6 – 0.925 V) at 80°C, the end of life surface area was 39 m2/gPt, only marginally below the end of test target of 40 m2/gPt. This catalyst has therefore been considered to meet the targets set for this deliverable D4.3 (demonstration of a catalytic entity showing 0.7 A/mgPt in an MEA test and a surface area > 40 m2/gPt after 30,000 cycles from 0.6 to 0.925 V) and will be progressed to WP5 for further evaluations.
The Pt-RE catalysts being developed at CNRS, TUM and JMFC are also showing promise, with increased surface areas, but are at an earlier stage of development, and are therefore not included in this report.
D4.4 - Definition of the optimum layer design - CONFIDENTIAL

In order to reach an optimum layer design in membrane electrode assemblies (MEAs) for high current density operation, the electrode composition with regards to ionomer type and content needs to be carefully chosen. Within this task of the GAIA project, various development level modified ionomers were characterised with respect to their oxygen mass transport properties and compared to a commercial 800 EW reference ionomer provided by Dyneon.

   Workpackage 5: CCM Design and Optimisation
D5.1 – Large single cell commissioned and validated - CONFIDENTIAL
Abstract to be released.
D5.2 –  Supply of alternative CCM construction concepts meeting the MS3 1.5W cm-2 power density target - CONFIDENTIAL
The aim of the work presented in this report was to incorporate component improvements delivered in Work Packages 3, 4 and 6 to build on the performance of the Gen 1.0 benchmark MEA and achieve the 1.5 W cm-2 performance target consistent with Milestone 3. Three main areas were addressed in this MEA design.
The first was to assess further improved GDL variants. The second area was to address performance loss of the benchmark MEA after operation at the high temperature points in the GAIA test protocol. The third area to be investigated was to incorporate
new catalyst materials from Work Package 4.
D.5.3 – CCM development meeting the 1.8 W/cm2 power density target - CONFIDENTIAL
Materials advancements from Work Packages 3 and 4 were incorporated into CCMs and tested under a range of operating conditions to fully evaluate their performance. CCMs incorporating the best of these materials combinations were provided for stack testing at 4- and 10-cell stack size. Stack testing showed performance under optimised conditions of 1.8 W/cm2 and 1.7 W/cm2 in the 4-cell and 10-cell stacks respectively.
   Workpackage 6: Component Interaction, MEA Performance and Endurance Validation
D6.1 – First improvements in GDL-MPL for combination with CCM to achieve 1.5 W/cm2 AT 0.6 V in full size single cell test - CONFIDENTIAL

As an intermediate step towards the project goal of an MEA providing 1.8 W/cm2, a microporous layer (MPL) coated gas diffusion layer (GDL) has been developed which, when associated with the benchmark catalyst coated membrane, gives an MEA providing a power densities of up to 1.5 W/cm² @ 0.6 V.
The mass transport capability of the MPL was optimised to give better oxygen diffusion. The base substrate was modified to give higher electrical and thermal conductivity by increased carbonisation temperature to yield a carbon-based nonwoven with higher degree of graphitisation.
MPL-GDL combinations were characterised ex situ at FPM and distributed to project partners BMW, JMFC and ZSW for single cell and short stack testing.

   Workpackage 7: Communication, Dissemination & Maximising Impact
D.7.1– Project Website - PDF
The GAIA project website is designed to fulfil project communication and dissemination needs for the benefit of the scientific community and the public through relevant information including:
    • project overall objectives, partner & work package information
    • project activities: news, meetings
    • project progress: scientific publications, conference presentations, public domain reports
    • project resources: links, related events …
    • project contact information
All the partners will collectively participate in the dissemination objective of the website by providing up-to-date information
D.7.2– Dissemination protocol and knowledge management - CONFIDENTIAL
This report presents the dissemination protocol for the GAIA project, the procedure for “Open Access” to peer reviewed research articles, internal rules, information on support from the EU members and the strategy for Knowledge Management within the project.
D.7.3 – Communication and dissemination pack - PDF
During the first 21 months of the GAIA project the consortium undertook various dissemination and communication measures. Target groups include industry, academia, government bodies and the public.


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