Publication Detail

The Impact of Widespread Deployment of Fuel Cell Vehicles on Platinum Demand and Price

UCD-ITS-RP-11-22

Reprint

Sustainable Transportation Energy Pathways (STEPS)

Suggested Citation:
Sun, Yongling, Mark A. Delucchi, Joan M. Ogden (2011) The Impact of Widespread Deployment of Fuel Cell Vehicles on Platinum Demand and Price. International Journal of Hydrogen Energy 36 (17), 11116 - 11127

Current automotive fuel cells rely on platinum catalysts. At today’s platinum loading and price, a 50-kW fuel cell contains approximately 46 g of platinum costing $2200. Analysts expect that with further development of fuel cell technology, the platinum loading per car will decline perhaps by an order of magnitude, which will tend to reduce platinum costs per car. However, cost reductions from a decline in platinum loading might be partially offset by an increase in the price of platinum. Historically, platinum prices have been sensitive to changes in demand, and the widespread substitution of fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) for internal-combustion engine vehicles (ICEVs) might signiï¬cantly drive up platinum demand and hence platinum prices. The possible impact of rising platinum prices has been raised as a potential barrier to the commercialization of FCVs.

In this paper, we estimate the total cost of platinum in future FCVs considering the impact of worldwide introduction of hydrogen FCVs on platinum loading, platinum demand and price. The total platinum cost per FCV is the product of the platinum per FCV and the price of platinum. Using historical data and a scenario for platinum recycling, we estimate the price of platinum as a function of demand, which in turn is a function of the amount of platinum per FCV and the total number of FCVs. For a scenario where FCVs reach 40% of light-duty vehicle (LDV) sales globally by 2050, we ï¬nd that the average platinum price increases by around 70%, but that the average platinum loading declines by about 90%, so that the overall the cost per FCV declines by almost 80%, from current values of about $2200 to about $500 in 2045 and beyond. In 2045, platinum cost accounts for about 12.6% of the fuel cell system cost and about 4% of the vehicle cost.

Keywords: platinum price, fleet turnover model, platinum loading, platinum recovery rate