The objective of HIGHLANDER is to develop membrane electrode assemblies (MEAs) for Heavy-Duty Vehicles (HDV) with disruptive, novel components, targeting stack cost and size, durability, and fuel efficiency.


The project will design, fabricate, and validate the HDV MEAs at cell and short stack level against heavy-duty relevant accelerated stress test and load profile test protocols. Materials screening efforts will be supported by the development and use of improved predictive degradation models bridging scales from reaction sites to cell level. HIGHLANDER aims to bring about a significant reduction in stack cost and fuel consumption through improvement of fuel cell performance and development of a new, lower cost single-layer gas diffusion layer. Its intention is to achieve the 1.2 W/cm² at 0.65 V performance target at 0.3 g Pt/kW or below and to meet a lifetime target of 20,000 hours.




This project is supported by the Clean Hydrogen Partnership and its members Hydrogen Europe and Hydrogen Europe Research, under grant agreement No 101101346.


  The 6-month progress meeting was held in Bollate, Italy, at SOLVAY Specialty Polymers premises, on the 10th -11th of July 2023.


  • CNRS - Coordinator

    The French National Centre for Scientific Research is among the world's foremost research organisations. Internationally recognised for the excellence of its scientific research, ICGM, joint research unit of CNRS with Montpellier University, contributes leading research on fuel cell and electrolyser materials including development, characterisation and validation.

    CNRS is the project coordinator, leader of WP4 on High Durability Membranes and Components and of Task 3.1 on Robust and Functional Supports. We also contribute to innovation in cathode catalyst development and implementation of in situ/operando characterisation techniques.
  • Robert-Bosch GmbH

    The Bosch Group is a leading global supplier of technology and services. Mobile fuel cells are part of Bosch’s future powertrain strategy. The comprehensive product portfolio ranges from fuel cell components up to a complete fuel cell power module for commercial vehicles. The portfolio is complemented by electric drive components for electric vehicles.
    Bosch's role in HIGHLANDER is to develop a low cost GDL which matches performance of today's state-of-the-art halving projected mass scale production cost.
  • Elmarco SRO

    Elmarco s.r.o. is the private limited company and the industry´s leading supplier of industrial scale nanofiber production equipment, based on proprietary needle-free electrospinning process, NanospiderTM patented technology. Elmarco is committed to working with its customers and partners to provide turn-key solutions that meet their individual requirements and specifications.

    Main tasks in the project: Transfer of CNRS PBI recipes to Nanospider technology. Nanofibrous web production at pilot scale and industrial scale using free-surface electrospinning technology patented by Elmarco. Optimisation step and providing of validation batches to project partners, mainly to JMFC for pilot trials of PFSA membrane reinforcement.
  • Technische Universität Berlin

    Technical University Berlin (TUB) is a leading university for innovation in the development and understanding of fuel cell electrocatalysts and surface electrocatalytic reaction processes. In particular, it is internationally known for its ground-breaking work on shaped, high mass activity catalysts, and their insightful approaches will be used in the project to develop highly active ordered and disordered Pt alloy catalysts that are stabilised against conversion to less active materials by post-treatments and optimisation of the nanoparticle size and atomic composition, as well as the development of tuned pore size, nitrogen doped carbon supports.
  • Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH

    The institute section IEK-13 “Theory and Computation of Energy Materials” of Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH combines theoretical physics, computer simulations and physical modeling to study how energy materials form, function, fade and fail. IEK-13 employs theory and computation to close gaps in understanding structural and mechanistic phenomena in materials, discover or develop physical relations between structure and properties of complex multifunctional components, decipher multiparametric and scale-crossing correlations between materials properties and metrics of performance or lifetime, and enable the model-based diagnosis and optimization of electrochemical devices. Furthermore, IEK-13 orchestrates modeling and data analytics with artificial intelligence to accelerate the materials workflow from discovery to integration and advance modern lab concepts.

    Within “Highlander”, IEK-13 is leading the Modelling and Parameterisation activities (WP2), in which a hierarchical modeling framework linking degradation and performance models is developed, a parameterization strategy is derived and advanced diagnostic tools and test protocols are devised.



    PRETEXO is a SME created in 2007 currently involved in several European collaborative projects. PRETEXO has developed activities to facilitate and improve collaborative work, information sharing, communication and dissemination between researchers but also towards the public. The company proposes its skills in various fields, like proposal writing, assistance to pProject management, implementation of communication tools and organisation of international conferences.
    In the HIGHLANDER project, PRETEXO is assisting CNRS in the coordination activities, by providing and maintaining a Project Shared Workspace as well as internal communication tools. PRETEXO is also in charge of the WP7 on Dissemination, Communication and Exploitation.
  • Syensqo

    Syensqo is a science company whose technologies bring benefits to many aspects of daily life. We bond with customers and partners to address today and tomorrow’s megatrends. As a global leader in Materials, Chemicals and Solutions, Syensqo brings advancements in planes, cars, batteries, smart and medical devices, water and air treatment, to solve critical industrial, societal and environmental challenges. You can count on our innovative solutions to contribute to a safer, cleaner and more sustainable future. Syensqo's green hydrogen platform launched in 2021 brings together all the innovative material and chemical solutions the Group has to offer to advance the emerging green hydrogen economy. At the heart of the platform is Syensqo’s membrane technology (ion conducting polymer), which constitutes a necessary component in the process of hydrogen production and end-uses. Specialty Operations France and Rhodia Laboratoire du Futur (Syensqo affiliates) provide specific expertises in inorganic materials and formulation.
    Syensqo contributes through its core expertise in both fluoro and hydrocarbon ionomers development and characterisations for membranes and as binder for electrodes, together with expertise in radical scavenging solutions to extend the fuel cell durability (WP4)
  • Johnson Matthey

    Johnson Matthey (JM) is a global leader in sustainable technologies.  We apply our cutting-edge science to create solutions with our customers that make a real difference to the world around us. We’ve been leaders in our field for more than 200 years, applying unrivalled scientific expertise to enable cleaner air, improved health and the more efficient use of our planet's natural resources. As the world faces the challenges of climate change and resource scarcity, Johnson Matthey will be central in accelerating the big transitions needed in transport, energy, chemicals production and creating a circular economy.

    JM’s role in HIGHLANDER includes integrating the new materials developments in the project into HD-specific MEAs. JM will apply its expertise in additive manufacturing methods and catalyst layer X-Y-Z gradients, tailored to the HIGHLANDER stack characteristics, to add a hitherto unachieved degree of control, with benefits both to performance and in thrifting the use of fuel cell components, notably Pt, in the catalyst layer (WP6).  JM also will scale up catalysts achieving the target properties to satisfy the requirements for validation in large size MEAs and a short stack in WP6, and will develop anode and cathode catalyst layers stabilised against carbon corrosion and catalyst dissolution (WP3).


    By postal mail at:

    Dr. Deborah Jones
    Project Coordinator

    ICGM UMR 5253
    Pôle Chimie Balard Recherche
    1919 route de Mende
    34293 Montpellier Cedex 5


    By email by filling the form below



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