The French National Research Agency Projects for science

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ANR funded project

(DS0205) 2016
Projet NSPEM

Nanostructured Ionomers and Membranes with Controlled Architectures for PEMFC

The proton exchange membrane fuel cell sector accounts for the largest share of world commercial demand for fuel cells, a sector that will increase considerably over the next 5 years. The technology manufacturers account for a disproportionally large share of this market but competition is growing. To remain competitive, fuel cell manufacturers must reduce materials costs. Much is focused on lowering Pt requirements, ultimately, removing them altogether. Nonetheless, complementary challenges exist that require a re-design of the materials that constitute the heart of the fuel cell, i.e., the membrane-electrode assembly. The current technical standard of choice for the proton exchange membrane (PEM) and for the solid electrolyte in the catalyst layer is the family of polymers known as perfluorosulfonic acid (PFSA) ionomers. Despite its ubiquitousness it is costly and requires the use of controlled and potentially-dangerous fluorous vinyl monomers, and it suffers from a loss of conductivity at low relative humidity and/or elevated temperatures. Alternative materials that do not possess perfluorinated polymer backbones are required for a long term solution to mass production of fuel cell devices. A solution to this problem also requires complementary examination and re-design of the catalyst layer. Within the catalyst layer a proton conducting polymer transfers protons between the nanocatalyst and the proton exchange membrane, and plays a critical role in fuel cell operation.

This proposal addresses the challenge of developing proton conducting media that do not require the use of polymer backbones and possess a much lower fluorine content, and which are sufficiently versatile to be viable candidates to replace existing perfluorinated materials in the membrane and catalyst layer. The proposal focuses on researching the synthesis and development of a class of materials known as the polyarylene ethers bearing fluorosulfonic acid. The proposal partners have materials science and fuel cell expertise with internationally-leading at LEPMI, CEA and Simon Fraser University and the fuel cell expertise at Automotive Fuel Cell Collaboration Corp.


AFCC Automotive Fuel Cell Cooperation

CEA/INAC/SPrAM UMR 5819 Institut Nanosciences et Cryogénie

Eras labo ERAS Labo


SFU DC Simon Fraser University, Departement of Chemistry

SFU DP Simon Fraser University, Departement of Physic

ANR grant: 392 829 euros
Beginning and duration: novembre 2016 - 36 mois


ANR Programme: (DS0205) 2016

Project ID: ANR-16-CE05-0016

Project coordinator:
Madame Cristina Iojoiu (LEPMI)


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The project coordinator is the author of this abstract and is therefore responsible for the content of the summary. The ANR disclaims all responsibility in connection with its content.