Life-cycle assessment of hydrogen technologies with the focus on EU critical raw materials and end-of-life strategies
ID Lotrič, Andrej (Author), ID Sekavčnik, Mihael (Author), ID Kuštrin, Igor (Author), ID Mori, Mitja (Author)

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We present the results of a life-cycle assessment (LCA) for the manufacturing and end-of-life (EoL) phases of the following fuel-cell and hydrogen (FCH) technologies: alkaline water electrolyser (AWE), polymer-electrolyte-membrane water electrolyser (PEMWE), high-temperature (HT) and low-temperature (LT) polymer-electrolyte-membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs), together with the balance-of-plant components. New life-cycle inventories (LCIs), i.e., material inputs for the AWE, PEMWE and HT PEMFC are developed, whereas the existing LCI for the LT PEMFC is adopted from a previous EU-funded project. The LCA models for all four FCH technologies are created by modelling the manufacturing phase, followed by defining the EoL strategies and processes used and finally by assessing the effects of the EoL approach using environmental indicators. The effects are analysed with a stepwise approach, where the CML2001 assessment method is used to evaluate the environmental impacts. The results show that the environmental impacts of the manufacturing phase can be substantially reduced by using the proposed EoL strategies (i.e., recycled materials being used in the manufacturing phase and replacing some of the virgin materials). To point out the importance of critical materials (in this case, the platinum-group metals or PGMs) and their recycling strategies, further analyses were made. By comparing the EoL phase with and without the recycling of PGMs, an increase in the environmental impacts is observed, which is much greater in the case of both fuel-cell systems, because they contain a larger quantity of PGMs.

Keywords:life-cycle assessment, end of life, critical materials, electrolysers, fuel cells, waste management
Work type:Article
Typology:1.01 - Original Scientific Article
Organization:FS - Faculty of Mechanical Engineering
Publication status:Published
Publication version:Version of Record
Number of pages:Str. 10143-10160
Numbering:Vol. 46, iss. 16
PID:20.500.12556/RUL-126296 This link opens in a new window
ISSN on article:0360-3199
DOI:10.1016/j.ijhydene.2020.06.190 This link opens in a new window
COBISS.SI-ID:25340419 This link opens in a new window
Publication date in RUL:15.04.2021
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Record is a part of a journal

Title:International journal of hydrogen energy
Shortened title:Int. j. hydrogen energy
Publisher:Elsevier, Hydrogen Energy Publications LLC
COBISS.SI-ID:3338511 This link opens in a new window


License:CC BY-NC-ND 4.0, Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International
Description:The most restrictive Creative Commons license. This only allows people to download and share the work for no commercial gain and for no other purposes.

Secondary language

Keywords:študija življenjskih ciklov, zaključek življenjske dobe, kritični materiali, elektrolizerji, gorivne celice, ravnanje z odpadki


Funder:EC - European Commission
Funding programme:H2020
Project number:700190
Name:New technologies and strategies for fuel cells and hydrogen technologies in the phase of recycling and dismantling

Funder:ARRS - Agencija za raziskovalno dejavnost Republike Slovenije
Project number:P2-0401
Name:Energetsko strojništvo

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