LOHC Fuel-Cell Issues

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Email chain containing information from:

Dr. Kai Landskron

Ed Yarrish

Arundhati Tinku Khanwalkar

C. Baird Brown

Dave Roberts

Dr. Guido Pez


Platinum Metal Reserves by Country

Kai: 100 million cars needing 0.03 kg Pt each would amount to 3 million kg Pt.That could really be a problem if the world currently produces only 161,000 kg Pt each year. At the very least one would need to heavily recycle Pt.

Jean: Good point. Perhaps, Elon Musk can start mining Pt for us on Mars soon thereby eliminating foreign dependency, ha, ha. Just found an article that says that his battery EVs have more Pt than fuel cells. Not sure where that Pt would be needed.

https://fuelcells.io/why-platinum-costs-are-not-a-barrier-to-fuel-cell-vehicles/

Another element maybe affecting the current US thinking about platinum...

Country Platinum Production (in kg), 2014

South Africa 110,000

Russia 25,000

Zimbabwe 11,000

Canada 7,200

United States 3,650

Total Of Other Countries 3,800

World Total 161,000

On Thu, Jul 30, 2020 at 9:07 AM Kai Landskron <kal205@lehigh.edu> wrote: Ed,

I think a lot depends on HOW you tell people that they are wrong. You may not even actually need to say it, just argue convincingly enough so that they come to the conclusion by themselves. BTW, another positive is that Pt is easy to recycle. Because it is a noble metal it is noble meaning it likes to stay separate (that therefore is easily separated, and thus recycled) from everything else. My main concern would be the ABUNDANCE of Pt on earth (despite recyclability). It is a rare metal, and if we want to make so many fuel cells in the future, the question arises: do we have enough of it? If not, then this would really make alternatives a must. An enormous additional demand for Pt may also substantially increase the price from present value. By how much is hard to predict. Risk, Risk, Risk....

Kai

On Thu, Jul 30, 2020 at 8:52 AM Ed Yarrish <ed.yarrish@gmail.com> wrote: Kai, great point about catalytic converters on cars.

Bringing that to mind illustrates the value of this type of challenging discussion versus the "group think" of going along without questioning.

I still question the wisdom of trying to tell people the errors of their thinking, and that they are *wrong*, as a strategy.

Ed Yarrish



On Thu, Jul 30, 2020, 8:37 AM Kai Landskron <kal205@lehigh.edu> wrote: Hi all: I think first and foremost we should keep in mind that we respond to the RFI and not an FOA. The DOE requests information, not a proposal. They want to be informed (and learn), and this is an opportunity to correct them on points they misunderstand. So, I think we should tell them our real views on Pt, and not reinforce their wrong beliefs. Larry's analysis was for the large-scale grid storage application, not cars, trucks, planes, microgrids etc which all would require a separate analysis which has not been done in detail yet. Larry spent ca. four weeks of full time work on the grid storage analysis, and my guess is that any of the other applications would likely require at least an equal amount of time each. We do not have the resources at this time to do all this work. However, from a qualitative perspective I do not see why the impact of Pt in the other applications would be fundamentally different from grid storage. As a conclusion, efforts to eliminate Pt do not have a high priority at this time. The focus should be on improving the performance of the catalysts. Regardless how we modify it, it can hardly get more expensive than Pt.

Note also that ca. 50% of today's Pt consumption is for catalytic converters in vehicles that convert NOx emissions into N2 and O2. Therefore, current automobile technology already uses a lot of Pt. If the combustion engine was eliminated, catalytic converters were no longer be needed, all associated Pt would be saved. Overall, we may only need to move the Pt from the catalytic converter into the fuel cell. If the amounts are about equal (that would need to be verified) we would be about cost-neutral in terms of Pt cost.


Jean Simonnet to all:

Hi There,

I'm very busy with my own new adventure with Lehigh SBDC and can not spend the time I would want to, with helping you with research and stuff, and I do not know DOE per say, all I know is what I heard from previous colleagues in this sector and my own research on funded project within the last couple of years. Platinum is not welcome anymore, maybe for the reasons Ed mentioned, and most probably also to boost any alternative to platinum with nanotechnology and so on.

Having said that it doesn't mean DOE will not fund the project as you see it and since you are focusing on the DBT storage side of things, you could suggest you will also focus your research on "platinum alternative" maybe? But I'm not a chemist or a scientist so I wouldn't know first: if it's achievable and in the project scope, and second: I wouldn't know how to write it in DOE acceptable language.

Just a thought!

Jean

On Wed, Jul 29, 2020 at 9:12 PM Ed Yarrish <ed.yarrish@gmail.com> wrote: If I may, let me add a few other thoughts:

1. If Jean's Research about the viewpoint of DOE is accurate, and I have no reason to question it, and DOE do not see funding research that involves platinum as something they want to do, are you ignoring a key issue with the customer? Are you attempting to tell the customer, DOE, they don't know what they're talking about, or what they want?

In attempting to make a sale, which is what this is about meaning that they will give you money to do something that they want done. This approach does not, at least to me, seem like the best strategy.

2.In the part that is quoted here, it doesn't make a lot of sense to me, because I don't have any idea what the use case is, which might have been explained somewhere else in the former proposal.

If the use case is about the equipment at a coal fired generation plant, it's a rather limited scenario. Particularly, when some of the discussion is about cars, ships, possibly even airplanes.

The way decisions are made in these other circumstances are different. I don't buy a car and do a net present value calculation. It's not an asset; it's an expense. It loses value as soon as I drive it off the lot.

So if the argument is this technology is only economically feasible for large-scale installations, then that should be clearly stated.

3. If it is for other circumstances like cars, then I think we have to look at what I think of as the science of large numbers.

It's like aluminum cans. One aluminum can looks very nice. Several billion aluminum cans a year is a whole other recycling issue.

If we're talking about cars, there are something like 16 million cars sold in the United States each year. Suppose we say this type of fuel cell with platinum is used in 10 million cars that are sold in one year, obviously much further down the line.

Then the question becomes how much platinum in each automobile fuel cell? We seem to have a good idea of the power requirements to drive the average passenger car, so we could possibly estimate the number of cells in a stack that would be necessary. Then we should be able to calculate the total amount of platinum per automobile, and multiply by 10 million.

Then we can say, that's just the United States. We'd have to assume other countries are also going to build similar fuel cells with the same technology. Suppose we say it's a hundred million cars per year on a global basis?

Then how much platinum is needed each year? And, how does that amount compare to the current annual production of platinum? And how does it compare to the known identified deposits of platinum?

Do we then get into a situation where demand may so outstrip the supply, since this is a rare metal, that prices will increase dramatically, and destroy the economic viability?

I don't know the answer to that question. And, I do wonder if DOE hasn't done calculations like that. I've seen think tank consulting reports for national policy issues address concerns at that level, because they have to think on a national and international scale.

The calculations that were done for the recent stimulus legislation certainly were done at that scale.


On Wed, Jul 29, 2020, 3:55 PM Arundhati Khanwalkar <ak@avkcounsel.com> wrote: I believe Ed and Jean have brought up an important point. Kai, your response on this issue is excellent and should probably be included at the end of QD3 as follows:

"We note that there can be a mis-perception that the platinum used in the catalyst would make this technology uneconomical.  We have carefully analyzed the economics of this technology, including via industry standard capital projects analyses (including net present value (NPV), internal rate of return (IRR), return on net assets (RONA), return on investment (ROI), payback, etc) after loading the project with typical financial burdens which include federal and state corporate taxes, short-term construction interest, cost of land, local property taxes, insurance etc. office overhead, etc. For a 20 year project life and a 10% discount factor, the NPV is calculated as +$269,000 with an IRR of 13.9%, both of which would be very attractive to typical corporations looking for profitable investments. This IRR is achieved without even taking credit for Platinum recovery.  We have industrial experience with precious metal hydrogenations which show that ca. 70% of the metal is routinely recovered. Our economics has included replacement of the fuel cell assembly twice in the 20 year project life, for which the cost, as NPV amounts to only 5% of the initial investment."

I believe we should include this so that the DOE doesn't dismiss this technology on those faulty grounds again. You can't rely on the reviewer being aware of your response to the ARPA-E rejection!


On Jul 29, 2020, at 3:12 PM, Kai Landskron <kal205@lehigh.edu> wrote:

Tinku and Ed, the use of Pt in fuel cells is a common concern, but overstated according to Larry Bagzis who did the technoeconomical analysis in our ARPA-e proposal. Our response to ARPAe was as as follows (see Figure 1 in particular):

Catalyst use through Q7 still relies on platinum. The economics of this project cannot meet DAYS requirements. Reply: We have carefully analyzed the economics of our proposal, both via the DAYS criteria as expressed in the LCOS equation and via industry standard capital projects analyses (including net present value (NPV), internal rate of return (IRR), return on net assets (RONA), return on investment (ROI), payback, etc) after loading the project with typical financial burdens which include federal and state corporate taxes, short-term construction interest, cost of land, local property taxes, insurance etc. office overhead, etc. For a 20 year project life and a 10% discount factor as specified by ARPA-E, the NPV is calculated as +$269,000 with an IRR of 13.9%, both of which would be very attractive to typical corporations looking for profitable investments. We recognize the high cost of Pt but have taken no credit for Pt recovery though our (Air Products) industrial experience with precious metal hydrogenations show that we have been able to routinely recover ca. 70% of the metal. Our economics has included replacement of the fuel cell assembly twice in the 20 year project life, for which the cost, as NPV amounts to only 5% of the initial investment. If we can attain the proposal's technical benchmarks, the economics are favorable. The impact of Pt on the overall economics is summarized in Figure 1.

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Regards,

Kai



On Wed, Jul 29, 2020 at 2:00 PM Arundhati Khanwalkar <ak@avkcounsel.com> wrote:

Kai — should we say anything about the catalyst material? Would it be appropriate to mention among the barriers and what our solution is to address it?

On Jul 29, 2020, at 10:52 AM

 Ed to Tinku,


I recall from talking to Guido that the Arpa-e proposal was critiqued because of the use of platinum as the catalyst.

I also recall that in Jean's extensive research he noted that the department of Energy will not fund items related to Platinum as the catalyst.

I know this particular response is about storage, and the solution is only meaningful if those 18 hydrogen atoms can be turned into electricity directly by a fuel cell.

The group in Germany has already solved the storage problem. They can get the 18 hydrogen atoms into the DBT. The question is how to get those electrons out and flowing using less expensive catalyst than platinum, particularly if you want DOE funding.

That's my .000001 ETH worth of comment. (That's a cryptocurrency joke 😁)

Good luck with the proposal, Ed