Fuel cells, especially polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells (PEMFC), are already used in hydrogen-powered automobiles. With the increasing spread of this technology, a larger quantity of this type of fuel cell will have reached the end of its life by 2030 at the latest. Due to the high proportion of valuable technology metals and ecological considerations, an efficient recycling of materials contained in PEM fuel cells is necessary. However, a recycling process tailor-made for fuel cells is not yet available on an industrial scale.
This challenge is now being met by a consortium led by the Fraunhofer IWKS. As part of the "BReCycle" project, the consortium, consisting of the five research and industrial partners Fraunhofer IWKS, Proton Motor Fuel Cell GmbH, MAIREC Edelmetallgesellschaft mbH, Electrocycling GmbH and KLEIN Anlagenbau AG, is developing a closed-loop recycling concept specifically for PEM fuel cells.
To increase their range, these vehicles have been fitted with a hydrogen system, which converts the gas into electricity with just pure water as a waste product. This allows the vehicles to be used 24 hours a day whilst remaining quiet and clean.
The compact fuel cell battery simply occupies the space otherwise taken up by the conventional lead acid batteries of the 7 Series sedan.