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Sustainability Indicators for the Manufacturing and Use of a Fuel Cell Prototype and Hydrogen Storage for Portable Uses


A sustainability assessment regarding the manufacturing process and the use of a new proton exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMFC), specially designed for portable hydrogen applications, is presented. The initial fuel cell prototype has been configured by taking into account exclusively technical issues. However, a life cycle analysis considering environmental and socioeconomic impacts is crucial to improve the model to develop a more sustainable product. From the environ‐ mental perspective, the durability of the system and its efficiency are key elements required to de‐ crease the potential overall impacts. High electricity consumption for manufacturing requires a commitment to the use of renewable energies, due to the high current value of the projected impact of climate change (42.5 tonnes of CO2 eq). From the socioeconomic point of view, the dependence of imported components required for the synthesis of some materials displaces the effects of value added and employment in Spain, potentially concentrating the largest impact on countries such as Singapore, Japan and the UK, whereas the cell assembly would have a greater benefit for the country of fabrication. These results provide a basis for new research strategies since they can be considered standard values for improving future upgrades of the fuel cell in terms of sustainability.

Funding source: This research was funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation by means of the ELHYPORT project (PID2019-110896RB-I00), a four-year project.
Countries: Spain

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