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Current and Future European Stocks and Flows of Platinum Relating to the Fuel Cell Development

© – alexlmx 2018

Marcus Andreas Berr

Master Thesis - Environmental Engineering - 2018

In this thesis, the current and future European platinum metal cycle is modelled and analysed by following the material flow analysis principles. In relation to the platinum cycle, realisable fuel cell and electrolyser technology utilizations are discussed for the years up to 2050.

The results of the study point out that the transportation sector is, and will be, the major utilizer of platinum metal. Platinum is currently used in the autocatalysts of diesel and gasoline vehicles, and even higher metal proportions will be applied in the catalysts of fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) of the future. Due to the platinum intensive fuel cell (FC) and electrolyser technologies, the prospective platinum demand is expected to rise significantly until 2050. An increasing supply risk is expected in the future, because of high purchase amounts of platinum and the rather unstable political situation in South Africa, the major mining country. Options to bypass this risk are to increase the recycled amounts of platinum and to decrease its usage. The latter is enabled by substitution, but this faces some limits at the moment and is often only possible by replacing platinum by other critical platinum group metals. Further, nanoparticle technology is applied to make the use of platinum as catalysts more efficient. The recycling can be improved by moving further towards industrial recycling, thereby avoiding the high platinum losses, which occur during the end-of-life product collection and treatment. 

It is concluded that the integration of innovative, platinum containing applications, like fuel cells and electrolysers, in the European platinum cycle depends on the feasibility of improvements in recycling, substitution and metal efficiency.

European Platinum Stocks and Flows in the year 2017. Click on the figure to see a larger version.

Related Research Projects 
Trade-linked Material Flow Analysis of Platinum in Europe - Shehab Ahmed Elmasry

Collaborating partners
EWII Fuel Cells A/S