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  1. Introduction.
  2. Current use of the fuel cells in mobile applications.
  3. Limiting factors to the use of fuel cells into mobile application.
    1. Fuel cell related issues.
    2. Hydrogen related issues.
    3. High cost and low availability of hydrogen.
  4. Current areas of research.
    1. Research addressed to hydrogen storage.
    2. Research on new MEA technologies.
  5. Conclusion.
  6. References.

What are the limiting factors in the introduction of PEM fuel cells into mobile power generation? What areas of research are being carried out to address these limitations and which of these do you feel will have the biggest impact in enabling the various types of fuel cells systems? Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cells have first been developed in the 1960s by General Electric to be used on their first NASA manned vehicles (Gemini program)[1]. Then different kind of fuel cells has been experimented, for different purposes but they have never been produced in large quantities. Nevertheless, in the last decades, with the new concerns about global warming, green house gases as CO2 and pollution, their development skyrocketed and huge improvements have been made. Indeed fuel cells are a ?clean? technology, as no harmful exhaust emissions are produced (the only products are pure water and heat), and the only CO2 emissions would be made when producing electricity to obtain hydrogen [2]. With a renewable energy source to produce electricity, no CO2 at all would be produced. An example with fuel cells vehicle is shown on figure 1.

[...] These European Union funds will be completed by the same amount of money brought by the private industry area At this occasion, the European Commissioner (Günther Verheugen) in charge of Industry and companies claimed that ?Fuel cells vehicles introduction might make European air cleaner and could reduce the dependence of Europe on fossil fuels? Same political interest can be seen in the US, and the idea of hydrogen replacing fossil fuels in the future (the ?hydrogen economy?) is even predicted by some scientists Today of the research and development activity is focused on PEM fuel cells, because of all their promising properties, and most of the current commercially developed applications are using PEM fuel cells (buses, cars)[4]. [...]


[...] Research on new MEA technologies As we saw in the previous part, the most important costs in a fuel cells are entailed by the membrane and by the need to use the expensive platinum catalyst. To decrease the cost of the catalyst used in the PEM fuel cells, researchers try to develop a mixture of platinum and ruthenium to replace the expensive platinum. This new catalyst would be needed in smaller quantity for the same efficiency. Such systems are currently under consideration It is also under consideration to enhance the recycling processes of platinum, in order to reuse platinum from used fuel cells in a more efficient way, and then decreasing the production costs[16]. [...]


[...] But for vehicles application, the biggest issue of fuel cells is the lack of hydrogen infrastructure This issue is often referred as a ?chicken and egg dilemma?: hydrogen powered vehicles won't be produced in large amount if there is no hydrogen supply infrastructure, and there won't be important hydrogen delivery systems created until a large number of hydrogen vehicles has been produced[5]. Even if hydrogen refuelling stations already exist in a few countries, their number is still insignificant and major development plans have to be undertaken in order to see hydrogen becoming a truly available fuel Bulkiness and weight of the hydrogen storage systems, high diffusivity of hydrogen For mobile devices, as cars, aircrafts, or laptops, the weight and the size of each component is of high importance. [...]

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