Johnson Matthey has begun fuel cell recycling in China.
Located in Zhangjiagang, Jiangsu province, the plant is refining and recycling the platinum group metal content from membrane electrode assemblies (MEA), a key component of an automotive fuel cell, from Unilia, a provider of fuel cell stack technology.
While the volume of materials for refining will be small to begin with, the supplier has sufficient capacity and ability to boost facilities to meet expected future demand.
China is the biggest PGM market in terms of demand but with very limited natural resource, so recycled precious metals will be critical to meeting this challenge. On average, around 80% of the platinum group metals used by JM are sourced internally, creating a resilient supply for catalysts and fuel cells.
Secondary supply of PGMs is expected to grow globally at roughly 3-5% per annum. Recycled metals cost less and have a much lower carbon footprint (up to 98% lower) than primary supply PGMs. They also provide security of supply of these scarce resources which becomes ever more critical with global supply chain disruption.