Japanese industrial precious metals firm TANAKA Kikinzoku Kogyo K.K. has inked a technical assistance agreement with China’s Chengdu Guangming Paite Precious Metal Co., Ltd. The partnership is focused on advancing fuel cell electrode catalyst manufacturing technologies. The strategic alliance aligns with TANAKA’s goal to cater to China’s growing domestic demand for fuel cell electrode catalysts.

Empowering Domestic Production

As part of this collaboration, production equipment will be installed at the Ya’an Guangming Paite Precious Metal Co., Ltd. facility, a subsidiary of Chengdu Guangming Paite Precious Metal. The plan is to commence full-scale production by the summer of 2024. Furthermore, the companies are eyeing the production of fuel cell electrode catalysts tailored for the Chinese market by the end of 2025.

TANAKA’s FC Catalyst Development Center, situated within its Shonan Plant, is currently at the forefront of developing and manufacturing electrode catalysts. These catalysts find applications in polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells (PEFCs) and polymer electrolyte water electrolysis (PEWE). The company is known for its portfolio of highly active and durable platinum catalysts and platinum alloy catalysts for PEFC cathodes. They also produce highly CO-tolerant platinum alloy catalysts and OER catalysts for PEFC anodes, along with iridium oxide catalysts for PEWE anodes.

Addressing Cost Challenges

One of the significant hurdles in the widespread adoption of fuel cells is the cost associated with platinum, a crucial component in their construction. TANAKA has devoted over 40 years to researching precious metal catalysts. This research has yielded catalysts that use smaller quantities of precious metals while maintaining high performance and durability. The ongoing efforts include exploring novel carrier materials, refining catalyst post-processing techniques, and producing more active metal species. These endeavors aim to develop catalysts optimized for fuel cell applications.

China’s Thriving Hydrogen Industry

China’s government has taken an active stance in promoting hydrogen energy and fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) as strategic industries. Support measures encompass R&D incentives and the wider application of fuel cell battery technologies. The government also incentivizes the adoption of FCVs through subsidies, tax benefits, and other initiatives. In parallel, extensive efforts are being made to build hydrogen supply infrastructure within cities and along key transportation routes. These collective actions signify a bright future for China’s fuel cell market, poised for further growth and innovation.

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