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Advanced materials in polymer electrolyte fuel cells

AuthorsSebastián del Río, David ; Baglio, Vincenzo
KeywordsPolymer electrolyte fuel cells
Fuel cells
Catalytic materials
Issue Date10-Oct-2017
PublisherMultidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute
CitationMaterials 10(10): 1163 (2017)
AbstractPolymer electrolyte fuel cells (PEFCs) have attracted much interest due to the need for an efficient, non-polluting power source with high energy density for vehicles in urban environments, as well as portable electronics [1,2]. Hydrogen is the most suitable fuel for a fuel cell powered vehicle, providing the highest conversion efficiency for fuel-on-board-to-electric-power, and generating zero polluting emission, since water is the only product of the hydrogen/air fuel cell process. The widespread utilization of technologies based on polymer electrolyte fuel cells (PEFCs) relies on the development of efficient, durable and economic materials. Significant efforts have been made in recent decades to investigate the direct electrochemical oxidation of alcohol and hydrocarbon fuels [3,4]. Among the liquid organic fuels, methanol has promising characteristics in terms of reactivity at low temperatures, storage, and handling [3]. Nevertheless, before this technology can reach large-scale application, some drawbacks related to poor electrochemical performance, the high cost of fuel cell components, long-term stability, etc. need be solved. In a PEFC system, high costs derive from the use of noble metal catalysts, perfluorosulfonic acid polymer electrolyte membranes, bipolar plates, and auxiliary components [5]. Therefore, the development of cost-effective and high-performing polymer electrolyte membranes, enhanced electro-catalysts, and cheap bipolar plates that satisfy the target requirements of high performance and durability, represents a significant challenge. Research is currently being addressed towards development of cost-effective materials, such as novel hydrocarbon membranes [6,7] and low precious metal loading electrodes [8,9]. The key to a sustainable energy future thus lies in the development of advanced materials. This Special Issue is intended to cover the most recent progress in advanced electro-catalysts, catalytic supports, electrodes, membranes, fillers and bipolar plates for high-performance and cost-effective polymer electrolyte fuel cells, including direct alcohol fuel cells.
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Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ma10101163
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