Membranes and Membrane Electrode Assemblies for PEM Fuel Cells

Published - Sep 2003| Analyst - Anna Welch Crull| Code - FCB035A
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Report Highlights

  • The current U.S. market for components that make up a fuel cell stack stands at $149 million. This will increase at an impressive 26% average annual growth rate (AAGR) to reach $475 million in 2008.
  • Membranes for PEM fuel cells represent 33% of the market, but only a small fraction, 3%, of the overall U.S. membrane market.
  • Rising at an AAGR of 25.6%, the membrane segment of the PEM fuel cell market is expected to reach $313 million in 2008.
  • Components for the remainder of the fuel cell stack will rise from $100 million in 2003 to $313 million in 2008.
  • Bipolar plates represent about 22% of the total value of stack components.


The huge potential profits to be gained by corporate success in the hydrogenpowered energy industry, which could replace the oil industry as a major energy source in the future, are the driving forces behind the seemingly chaotic expansion of what loosely may be called the fuel cell (FC) industry. There will continue to be barriers to proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell commercialization, especially for transportation, and to a lesser extent for portable power. It is likely that a variety of power sources will coexist with the fuel cell for a considerable period after its initial acceptance.

The fuel cell industry in various forms has been developing for decades. There are notable examples of fuel cell successes. The proton exchange membrane fuel cell is emerging as a winner in many of the primary categories that fuel cells can serve. Existing membranes and assemblies still have some problems. Proton exchange membrane fuel cell development and commercialization are ever-changing processes.

This BCC opportunity study examines U.S. markets for the materials and technologies for proton exchange membranes and electrode assemblies and for bipolar plates for PEM fuel cells. These include the gas diffusion layer, the catalyst ink/electrode, the membrane itself, and the bipolar plate. Ancillary stack assembly materials such as bolts, gaskets, tie-outs, and final assembly and packaging costs are excluded.

Identifying how researchers are carrying out the search for membranes that have greater tolerances to poisoning, greater durability, and lower costs is the principal objective of this report. A major cost issue addressed is platinum, the critical catalyst component.


The report includes coverage of:


  • Polymer membranes
  • Membrane electrode assemblies
  • Bipolar plates
  • catalyst components
  • Companies involved in these developments
  • Industry consolidation
  • Current and projected incentives
  • Projected markets for such technologies through 2008.



An in-depth analysis of technical and literature and published dissertations, a review of the history of the technologies involved, interviews with industry experts, company representatives, federal government researchers, and university scientists provide an assessment of the outlook for the next generation of PEMs and MEAs. Other information sources include product literature from suppliers, scientific references, conferences, patent searches, and BCC, Inc.'s monthly newsletters Fuel Cell Technology News, Battery and EV Technology News, and Membrane & Separation Technology News.

The report makes projections for market sectors in terms of constant dollars representing real growth. Historical values are presented for the given year. The market analyzed is for the United States, but attention is given to the global aspects of the membrane, the electrode assembly, and PEM fuel cell market.


Anna Welch Crull is a Senior Research Analyst or BCC covering Fuel Cells, Membranes, Separations and Advanced Technology. Experienced in fuel cell technologies, advanced separations, water and wastewater treatments as well as polymer and inorganic membrane materials, Ms. Crull has worked with BCC, Inc. for 28 years. She has authored 81 technical/marketing reports, helped establish 10 technical newsletters, and assisted in numerous special consulting studies. Her specialty is market evaluations and commercialization of new technologies. B.S. School of Engineering, University of Mississippi and M.S. Chemistry, University of Missouri.

Colonel Dick Hooker (USA, Ret.) is a Research Analyst covering Global Economics, Advanced Batteries and Fuel Cells. Trained as a journalist, Col. Hooker spent half of his military career abroad specializing as an intelligence officer and foreign area specialist. He has authored studies on water and wastewater global markets and technology needs and evaluated the fuel cells markets in large stationary applications and in transportation. He has worked with BCC, Inc. for 5 years and holds a B.S. in Journalism from the University of Mississippi.

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