IEA AFC Annex 31: Polymer Electrolyte Fuel Cells (Working period 2020 - 2024)

AFC Annex 31 covers the technological development of the key components of fuel cells, system development, market introduction support through the analysis and development of the political framework conditions and the reduction of market entry barriers.

Short Description

AFC Annex 31 covers all aspects of polymer electrolyte fuel cells. Components as well as fuel cell stacks and system aspects are dealt with in detail within this annex.

The Austrian participation is R&D-focused. It includes the characterisation, evaluation and optimisation of fuel cells as well as the development of materials and techniques to reduce costs and improve performance and durability. The systems under investigation include the polymer electrolyte fuel cell (PEFC) and direct fuel cells such as the direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC) and the direct ethanol fuel cell (DEFC) as well as the corresponding complete systems. The emphasis is on the following R&D activities:

Characterisation and optimisation of fuel cells

The performance, durability and degradation of the cells are determined using specialised test rigs for stress test investigations. The thinning of the membrane, the formation of pinholes and the long-term behaviour of fuel cells under changing loads and temperatures are investigated.

Manufacturing the membrane electrode assembly (MEA)

The application of new catalyst systems requires new concepts for the production of efficient membrane electrode assemblies. Depending on the viscosity of the catalyst suspension, sedimentation, impregnation and spraying procedures are utilised.

Component and material development

Electrodes and membranes are characterised by means of current/voltage curves, electrochemical impedance spectroscopy and ex situ analysis. Polymetallic catalyst systems are optimised and evaluated using cyclic voltammetry, elemental analysis and electron microscopy.

Fuel preconditioning

Innovative methods for purification of the fuel and the influence of trace impurities on the performance of fuel cells are being investigated.


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


Austria, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, South Korea and the USA (Operating Agent)

Contact Address

Prof. Dr. Viktor Hacker
Brigitte Hammer, Bakk.
DI Michael Lammer
Technische Universität Graz
Institute of Chemical Engineering and Environmental Technology
Fuel Cell Laboratory
Inffeldgasse 25 C, 8010 Graz
Tel.: +43 (316) 873-8780; +43 (316) 873-8781; +43 (316) 873-8795