What is a PEM Fuel Cell? A Polymer Electrolyte Membrane (PEM) fuel cell is an electrochemical device that converts the chemical energy of hydrogen into electrical energy and heat. The core part of a PEM fuel cell is the membrane electrode assembly (MEA) where the electrochemical reaction takes place. The MEA is consisted of an electrolyte medium (polymer membrane) sandwiched between two electrodes, the anode and the cathode. Hydrogen gas stream is fed to the anode compartment where it is oxidized to protons and electrons. Protons are moving through the electrolyte (polymer membrane) to the cathode, while electrons reach cathode trough an external circuit. At the cathode compartment, protons, electrons and atmospheric air are producing water and heat. The reactions that take place inside the fuel cell are the following:
Anode: H2 → 2H+ + 2e–
Cathode: 2H+ + 2e– + ½ O2¬ → H2O + Q
Conventional polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells operate at relatively low temperatures, around 80°C. Low-temperature operation allows them to start quickly; however, the platinum catalyst is extremely sensitive to CO poisoning, making it necessary to employ an additional reactor to reduce CO in the fuel gas if the hydrogen is derived from an alcohol or hydrocarbon fuel. This also adds complexity and cost to the final system.
The operation of polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cells at temperatures above 150°C offers very significant advantages compared to the conventional PEM fuel cells which are listed below:
- High CO tolerance
- No need for humidified gases
- High power-to-volume ratio
- Reduced complexity
- Low cost
Advent Technologies is involved in the design, development and production of polymers, membranes and membrane electrode assemblies (MEAs) for HT PEM Fuel Cells. Advent is the Membrane Electrode Assembly provider of choice for HT PEM stack constructors or HT PEM system integrators who deliver energy systems for many applications, such as stationary power, transport, portable power, telecom/utilities applications and application in space.