Low-Platinum Group (PGM) Metal Catalysts: Cooperative Research and Development Final Report, CRADA Number CRD-16-649

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


High catalyst loadings and relatively high over-potential losses have limited the commercial viability of direct methanol fuel cells (DMFCs). Platinum-based catalysts are used in DMFCs with a loading of 4.5 mg cm-2; the catalyst layer is a significant contributor to the membrane electrode assembly (MEA) cost, which accounts for 60% of the system cost. The large-scale commercial viability of DMFCs is dependent on a significant (~50%) cost reduction. If these cost goals can be reached, the current market can be extended from 100's of units to 10,000's of units. Currently, Oorja is using a platinum-ruthenium catalyst for methanol oxidation, but does not have access to a supplier able to develop low-platinum group (PGM) metal catalysts to reach DMFC cost reduction targets. Oorja has recently developed a small lab scale capability in fabrication and testing of DMFC membrane electrode assemblies (MEAs), but does not have access to synthesis and characterization of advanced electrocatalysts. The materials, equipment, and expertise at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) are of significant value to Oorja. NREL recently develop platinum-nickel nanowires as catalysts in hydrogen fuel cells. These materials have also shown promise in DMFC applications as a potential replacement for standard platinum-ruthenium catalysts; in ex-situ testing, these materials have shown one order of magnitude higher mass activity and can avoid ruthenium crossover contamination effects. These combined properties are exceptionally appealing to Oorja, and can result in significantly decreasing the capital costs of DMFCs.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages8
StatePublished - 2019

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-5900-74569


  • DMFC
  • MEA
  • methanol
  • Oorja fuel cell
  • PGM
  • platinum ruthenium catalyst


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