IMprove Pemfc with Advanced water management and gas diffusion Layers for Automotive application

Framework Programme: 
Call for proposals: 
Application area: 
Transport and refuelling infrastructure


The final objective is to, one step at a time, increase the performance (up to the ideal target of 1 W/cm²) and durability of PEMFC for automotive applications by manufacturing improved homogeneous and innovative non-homogeneous Gas Diffusion Layers (GDL).

This technological approach is supported by a scientific one to improve:

  • The knowledge of water management in an operating PEMFC by specific innovative ex-situ and in-situ visualisations
  • Modelling, in order to better link local properties of GDL to performance of PEMFC


IMPALA shall provide opportunities to a) increase the performance of PEMFC for automotive applications by manufacturing improved GDL; b) promote technologies and knowledge of European industries and laboratories and contribute to strengthening the European competiveness in PEMFC; c) provide better scientific knowledge on water management in PEMFC, thanks to dedicated modelling and characterisation; d) propose more predictable models to analyse the link between properties of GDL and performance of PEMFC as a basis for design tools to reduce cost of developments.


The purpose of the IMPALA project is to manufacture improved GDL that will increase performance (up to 1 W/cm²) and durability of PEMFC for automotive applications. Two approaches will be followed: i) Homogeneous GDL will be modified to ensure better water management on the anode and on the cathode side (formulation of the MPL, wettability, stability of the hydrophobic treatment, hydrophilic layers, and conductive additives). Most of these modifications should be transferable to industry; ii) More innovative non uniform GDL will be manufactured to adjust their local properties to the non-uniform local operating conditions of a PEMFC (gradients of porosity and of wettability, patterns of hole). This kind of approach creates a higher risk as some modifications could be difficult to transfer to industry but the improvements should be higher and lead to breakthrough GDL.

This technological work will be supported by a deep water management analysis, combining the most advanced two-phase models (Pore Network Modelling) and the most advanced experimental diagnostics (liquid visualisation by X-Ray, local instrumentation). This will allow for a much better understanding of water management and the link between main properties of GDL (thickness, pore size and wettability distribution…) and their performance in PEMFC. This will also ensure important scientific progress and provide recommendations for design.

The project focuses on standard automotive conditions, but special attention will be paid to ensure that the improvements will be valid for higher operating temperatures and different stack designs for back-up applications.

The consortium gathers the necessary international complementary leading expertise to reach the project targets: INPT: two-phase modelling, PSI: X-Ray visualisation, JRC: modelling and tests, CEA: performance modelling, tests and modification of GDL, DLR: characterization, SGL: manufacturing performing GDL, and NEDSTACK: stack tests for automotive and back-up application.

Project reference: 
SP1-JTI-FCH.2011.1.5: Next generation European MEAs for transportation applications
Project type: 
Research and technological development
Contract type: 
Collaborative Project
Start date: 
Friday, November 30, 2012
End date: 
Monday, November 30, 2015
36 months
Project cost: 
€ 5,081,586.80
Project funding: 
€ 2,640,535

Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique et aux Energies Alternatives (CEA), France.
French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission.

Contact email: 
Other participating organisations: 
Organisation Country
Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt e.V. Germany
Paul Scherrer Institut Swizerland
JRC - Joint Research Centre, European Commission                         Belgium
Institut National Polytechnique de Toulouse France
SGL Carbon GmbH Germany
Nedstack Fuel Cell Technology BV The Netherlands


Results or Deliverables files: