Proton Exchange Membrane fuel cells (PEM FCs) have gathered significant attention in the field of energy conversion due to their numerous advantages over other types of fuel cells. Among them:
- Performance: PEM FCs have high efficiency in converting chemical energy into electrical energy. Operating at relatively low temperatures (around 60-80°C) and high temperatures (over 160oC) and the proton-conducting membrane in PEM FCs enables quick proton transport, resulting in high power density and excellent performance. This is particularly advantageous for applications requiring rapid and dynamic response, such as automotive and portable electronic devices.
- Durability and Longevity: The good durability and longevity of PEM FCs make them suitable for various applications. The advances in materials science and manufacturing processes have contributed to improved membrane durability and enhanced resistance to degradation over time.
- Environmental footprint: By using hydrogen as the fuel source and producing water and heat makes them environmentally friendly but also contributes to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
In recent years, there has been a growing interest in replacing precious group metals (PGMs) with nickel alloys in PEM FCs. Platinum and other precious group metals are expensive, posing economic challenges for large-scale deployment of PEM FCs. Nickel alloys provide a cost-effective alternative while maintaining performance levels. Nickel-based catalysts with tunable composition and microstructure show promise in replacing platinum-based catalysts. These alloys can be tailored to exhibit excellent catalytic activity, thus reducing the overall cost of PEM FCs. Furthermore, the utilization of nickel alloys in PEM FCs paves the way for scalability and widespread PEMFC market adoption. Nickel is abundant and globally available, ensuring a stable supply chain for large-scale manufacturing and deployment.
In conclusion, the superiority of PEM FCs, coupled with the potential transition from PGMs to nickel alloys, holds promise for making fuel cell technology more economically viable, environmentally sustainable, and commercially competitive in various applications. Ongoing research and development efforts within NICKEFFECT project are crucial for further optimizing PEM FCs and advancing the use of nickel alloys to meet the growing demand for clean and efficient energy solutions.