Falling Costs and Improving Durability Driving New Applications and Markets for PEMFCs

October 12, 2015

Wellesley, Mass., October 12, 2015 – As costs fall and durability is improving, new applications for proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs) are emerging. BCC Research reveals that PEMFC market drivers include long-term energy supply, energy efficiency and reduced environmental impact, and the cost of platinum catalysts.

As one of several fuel cell designs, PEMFC is a potential candidate for vehicle power, auxiliary power, mobile power, stationary distributed or central power, and portable product power. Hydrogen feed fuel cells transform chemical energy liberated during the electrochemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen to electrical energy. Because the electrochemical process does not pollute the environment with hydrocarbons, particulates or any sulfur or nitrogen oxides, PEMFC technology promises an environmentally friendly energy system with excellent performance, and price and efficiency advantages over advanced batteries.

The global market for proton exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMFC) membrane electrode assemblies (MEA) reached $340 million and $460 million in 2010 and 2014, respectively. This market is expected to reach $534 million by 2015 and $1.9 billion by 2020, registering a five-year (2015-2020) compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 29.4%. Bipolar plates/collectors as a segment will grow from $145 million in 2015 to $510 million in 2020 at a five-year CAGR of 28.6%. Membranes as a segment will grow from $209 million in 2015 to $800 million in 2020 at a five-year CAGR of 30.8%.

Limits in the power and durability of lithium ion and polymer battery technology are being reached. Consumer demand is rising for portable electronics with longer runtimes, faster recharging and greater durability. New materials like the functionalized hydrocarbon PEM can decrease costs and increase performance and durability in certain applications. However, cost is no longer the main driving force for PEMFCs. Instead, other key factors include robust performance, durability, degree of hydration needed, dimensional stability, ease of manufacture and temperature stability.

“For all PEMFCs, both membranes and platinum catalysts are expensive. Despite recent lower platinum prices, catalyst costs are a more important market driver than the cost of the membrane,” says BCC Research analyst Donald Saxman. “As costs fall and durability improves, new applications for PEMFCs will also emerge. Membrane electrode assemblies (MEA) must move into larger production volumes to go from prototypes to production runs to meet the criteria of costs decreasing and being competitive with energy sources as we know them now. Optimizing all the interfaces and manufacturing techniques will make the MEA a more attractive and economically viable advanced power source.”

Materials for Proton Exchange Membranes and Membrane Electrode Assemblies for PEM Fuel Cells (FCB035E) examines bipolar plates for PEMFCs, including direct methanol fuel cells, which includes the gas diffusion layer, the catalyst ink/electrode, the membrane itself, and the bipolar plate. The report also analyzes patent activity, technology advances, market dynamics, growth drivers, inhibitors, and opportunities. Trends and revenue are forecast through 2020.

Editors and reporters who wish to speak with the analyst should contact Steven Cumming at steven.cumming@bccresearch.com.


Materials for Proton Exchange Membranes and Membrane Electrode Assemblies for PEM Fuel Cells( FCB035E )
Publish Date: Sep 2015    

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