A method is provided for recovering a catalytic element from a fuel cell membrane electrode assembly. The method includes grinding the membrane electrode assembly into a powder, extracting the catalytic element by forming a slurry comprising the powder and an acid leachate adapted to dissolve the catalytic element into a soluble salt, and separating the slurry into a depleted powder and a supernatant containing the catalytic element salt. The depleted powder is washed to remove any catalytic element salt retained within pores in the depleted powder and the catalytic element is purified from the salt.
The work described herein was supported, in part, by grant DE-FC36-03GO13104 from the United States Department of Energy. Therefore, the U.S. Government may have certain rights in this invention.