Powering the Future through Hydrogen and Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cells
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To date, the world has been making a massive shift away from fossil fuels towards cleaner energy sources. For the past decade, polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs) powered by hydrogen have attracted much attention as a promising candidate for eco-friendly vehicles, i.e. fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs), owing to their high power density, high efficiency and zero emission features. Since the world’s first mass production of Tucson ix35 FCEV by Hyundai in 2013, global automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) have focused on commercialising FCEVs. In 2018, Hyundai also unveiled the second generation of the mass-produced FCEV (i.e. Nexo) with improved performances and durability compared with its predecessor. Since then, the global market for PEMFCs for a variety of FCEV applications has been growing very rapidly in terms of both passenger vehicles and medium- and heavy-duty vehicles such as buses and trucks, which require much higher durability than passenger vehicles, i.e. 5000 h for passenger vehicles vs. 25,000 h for heavy-duty vehicles. In addition, PEMFCs are also in demand for other applications including fuel cell electric trains, trams, forklifts, power generators and vessels. We herein present recent advances in how hydrogen and PEMFCs will power the future in a wide range of applications and address key challenges to be resolved in the future.