Daihatsu Collaboration

Daihatsu Motor Company has been supporting UNM research in non-platinum catalysts for fuel cells for more than 4 years. Daihatsu is a member of the 'Toyota family' and manufactures small cars almost exclusively for the Japanese domestic market. Daihatsu lead scientist, Hirohisa Tanaka had a great vision for the new generation Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEV). It crystallized in an unusual industry/university partnership that he called CAFÉ - Creating Anion-exchange Fuel-cells for Earth. This collaborative alliance brings together researchers across Japan from academia and government, from private industry and non-profits and it has the participation of University of Houston, Gas Technology Institute (GTI) in Chicago and UNM.

The fuel for this unusual ZEV is hydrazine hydrate - a water solution of hydrazine that can be safely stored and used as a liquid fuel. As the fuel is oxidized on the anode of the fuel cell only nitrogen and water is produced making it a true ZEV. As a part of this partnership, UNM team introduced a new type of hydrazine oxidation electrocatalyst, developed the anode catalysts for performance, manufacturability and participated in the scale-up operations by Cabot-SMP. UNM also worked with Daihatsu directly, with members of the CAFÉ alliance (such as University of Osaka) and in cooperation with GTI, the leading research, development and training organization serving energy and environmental markets, and on the cathode catalysts for oxygen reduction.


Figure 4.1: Demonstration module of the Daihatsu-built Platinum Metal-free Liquid Fuel Car at the 41st Tokyo Motor Show.

This direct hydrazine hydrate fuel cell uses a anion exchange polymer electrolyte membrane, as opposed to the proton-exchange membranes that are popular today. The membrane allows the use of nonplatinum group metal (Non-PGM) catalysts for both oxidation of fuel on the anode and oxygen reduction on the cathode. The Non-PGM catalysts are stable in an alkaline media and thus can fully replace platinum catalyst. This technology was the baser of the Platinum Metal-free Liquid Fuel Car (PMfLFC) that was first introduced by Daihatsu at the 41st Tokyo Motor Show in December 2009 (see Fig. 4.1).


Figure 4.2: Concept vehicle FC Show-Case built by Daihatsu as shown at the 42nd Tokyo Motor Show (from the TMS website).

In just under three years, UNM team developed the catalysts needed for the fully operational FC Show-Case, a concept car designed by Daihatsu Motor Corporation. The car premiered at the 42nd Tokyo Motor Show in December 2011 (see Fig. 4.2). In the course of this project UNM has created independent and joined IP, participated in technology scale-up with one company and in forward integration with another to ultimately deliver the technology. It operated& in collaboration with universities and governmental labs in 3 countries in North America, Europe and Asia. Currently we are working towards the prototype to be displayed at the 43rd Tokyo Motor Show in December 2013. SMP has optioned UNM technology and new joint IP has been filed to support the effort.