Fuel Cell Problems


In the economy perspective, many of the component pieces of a fuel cell are costly. For PEMFC (Proton Exchange Membranes Fuel Cell), precious metal catalysts (usually platinum), gas diffusion layers, and bipolar plates make up 70 percent of a system's cost
[Source: Basic Research Needs for a Hydrogen Economy].
In order to be competitively priced (compared to gasoline-powered vehicles), fuel cell systems must cost $35 per kilowatt. Currently, the projected high-volume production price is $110 per kilowatt [Source: Testimony of David Garman].


Researchers must develop PEMFC membranes that are durable and can operate at temperatures greater than 100 degrees Celsius and still function at sub-zero ambient temperatures. A 100 degrees Celsius temperature target is required in order for a fuel cell to have a higher tolerance to impurities in fuel. Because you start and stop a car relatively frequently, it is important for the membrane to remain stable under cycling conditions. Currently membranes tend to degrade while fuel cells cycle on and off, particularly as operating temperatures rise.


Because PEMFC membranes must by hydrated in order to transfer hydrogen protons (electrolyte), researches must find a way to develop fuel cell systems that can continue to operate in sub-zero temperatures, low humidity environments and high operating temperatures. At around 80 degrees Celsius, hydration is lost without a high-pressure hydration system.

The SOFC (Solid oxide fuel cell) has a related problem with durability. Solid oxide systems have issues with material corrosion. Seal integrity is also a major concern. The cost goal for SOFC is less restrictive than for PEMFC systems at $400 per kilowatt, but there are no obvious means of achieving that goal due to high material costs. SOFC durability suffers after the cell repeatedly heats up to operating temperature and then cools down to room temperature.


In order for PEMFC vehicles to become a viable alternative for consumers, there must be a hydrogen generation and delivery infrastructure. This infrastructure might include pipelines, truck transport, fueling stations and hydrogen generation plants. It is hoped that the development of a marketable vehicle model will drive the development of an infrastructure to support it.

Storage, Delivery & Safety

The development is highly limited by the hurdles pertaining hydrogen storage due to its low energy density and safety issue about the hydrogen as its very combustible!

Also, PEMFC systems have become lighter and smaller as improvements are made, they still are too large and heavy for use in standard vehicles.


Fuel Cell will make its significant contribution in future phasing out the Fossil fuel Economy!!