One of the main goals of Recycalyse is to reduce investment costs of PEM electrolyzers by reducing the amount of critical raw materials (CRMs) in electrocatalyst as well as reusing recycled material from the end-of-life membrane electrode assemblies (MEAs).

The development of the recovery approach of CRMs from used MEAs is the main task for Recycalyse partners focused on establishing the recycling scheme for the whole PEMEC – Technische Universität Bergakademie Freiberg (TUF) and Accurec (ACC). While Accurec focused on developing the automated process for PEMEC disassembly and recycling of titanium flow plates, TUF focused on laboratory-scale research of the extraction of CRM from the used electrodes by applying several recycling approaches. These combined efforts allow to achieve a high recovery rate of CRM with a low environmental impact in the proposed recycling process for PEMEC.

For the separation of MEA from the other part of PEMEC the automatic sorting system was developed by applying the visual material detection method. In the next stage, the catalyst layer is separated from the membrane by solvent treatment, which is of great interest because it avoids the formation of hazardous F-containing compounds. The detached layer containing PGMs is treated pyro- and hydrometallurgically to recover salts pure enough for the production of new catalysts. Furthermore, a novel approach for Ru recovery was patented that allows the recovery of different valuable Ru-salts directly from the spent catalyst. It is targeted to recover platinum (Pt), ruthenium (Ru), and iridium (Ir) in a form to be used as precursors for the manufacture of new electrocatalyst, therefore the refining steps were adjusted to eventually obtain the ammonium and chloride salts of these metals.