IEA AFC Annex 31: Polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell (Working period 2017 - 2019)

Task 31 is a research and development oriented Task with the objective to contribute to the identification and development of techniques and materials to reduce the cost and improve the durability of polymer electrolyte fuel cells (PEFCs).

Short Description

Polymer electrolyte fuel cells are suitable for various uses. This includes the use in devices, such as portable computers and smartphones, as well as for transportation in automotive applications and for decentralised energy supply in combined heat and power units (CHPs) for stationary application.

The research and development activities within task 31 include all aspects of PEFCs (polymer electrolyte fuel cells) and DF-PEFCs (direct fuel polymer electrolyte fuel cells).

New materials for fuel cell stacks

Research activities are focused on the development and characterisation of novel materials and designs for polymer electrolyte membranes, electrode catalysts, catalyst support materials, membrane electrode assemblies and bipolar plates.
The aim is to reduce material and manufacturing costs at improved performance and durability for PEFCs.

Manufactured membrane electrode assemblies including a newly developed Pt-Co/C cathode electrocatalyst (Source: Graz University of Technology, CEET)
Manufactured membrane electrode assemblies including a newly developed Pt-Co/C cathode electrocatalyst (Source: Graz University of Technology, CEET)

System, components and balance of plant aspects

This subtask focuses on stack and system development as well as on balance of plant aspects. This includes system analyses, stack hardware design, as well as the development and construction of prototypes. The standardisation of test protocols is also included in this task. Therefore, the influence of contaminations and operation parameters on the fuel cell lifetime, water and heat management is investigated and optimised parameters are proposed. This task also includes reformer development for hydrogen supply in CHP and axillary power units (APUs), based on PEFCs.

Direct fuel polymer electrolyte fuel cells

The third subtask focuses on research and development of DF-PEFC technologies. This includes direct methanol fuel cells (DMFC), direct ethanol fuel cells (DEFC) and direct borohydride fuel cells (DBFC). Fuel cell materials are investigated as well as the relationship between the operation parameters and the performance density. Stack and system designs are adapted to the respective fuel.

The aim of this project is to gain knowledge regarding fuel cell system degradation in order to prolong the lifetime of µCHP systems powered by PEFC and DMFC technology. By the close cooperation with project partners from the industries, exiting systems can be investigated and enhanced in order to improve their competitiveness.

Project Images

Terms of use: The pictures listed underneath the header “Project Pictures” originate from the projects in the frame of the programmes City of Tomorrow, Building of Tomorrow and the IEA Research Cooperation. They may be used credited for non-commercial purposes under the Creative Commons License Attribution-NonCommercial (CC BY-NC).


Publications are available on the website of IEA AFC Annex 31.


Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, Sweden, USA

Contact Address

Assoc.Prof. Dr. Viktor Hacker
Graz University of Technology
Institute of Chemical Engineering and Environmental Technology
Fuel Cell Systems Group
Inffeldgasse 25 C, 8010 Graz
Tel.: 0316/873-8780