Polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell and hydrogen station networks for automobiles: Status, technology, and perspectives


The U.S. transportation sector accounts for 37% of total energy consumption. Automobiles are a primary application of polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cells, which operate under low temperature and high efficiency, to reduce fossil fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. Using hydrogen fuel, PEM fuel cells can reach a practical efficiency as high as 65% with water as the only byproduct. Almost all the major automakers are involved in fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) development. Toyota and Hyundai introduced FCEVs (the Mirai and NEXO, respectively) to consumers in recent years with a driving range between 312 and 402 miles and cold-start capacity from -30 °C. About 50 fuel cell electric buses (FCEB) are operating in California, and most of them have achieved the durability target, i.e., 25,000 h, in real-world driving conditions. As of September 2020, over 8,573 FCEVs have been sold or leased in the U.S. More than 3,521 FCEVs and 22 FCEBs have been sold or leased in Japan as of September 2019. An extensive hydrogen station network is required for the successful deployment of FCEVs and FCEBs. The U.S. currently has over 44 hydrogen fuelling stations (HFSs), nearly all located in California. Europe has over 139 HFSs, with ~1500 more stations planned by 2025. This review has three primary objectives: 1) to present the current status of FCEV/FCEB commercialization and HFS development; 2) to describe the PEM fuel cell research/development in automobile applications and the significance of HFS networks; and 3) to outline major challenges and opportunities.

Related subjects: Applications & Pathways
Countries: United States

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