Research Topic

Polymer Electrolyte Fuel Cells: From Fundamentals to Applications

About this Research Topic

Owing to its zero emission at the point of use and relatively high efficiency, polymer electrolyte fuel cell (PEFC) technology has been one of the promising power conversion technologies for low-carbon economy. PEFCs also feature some other appealing characteristics such as: low start-up temperature, ease of manufacture and sizing flexibility. These attributes have enabled the PEFC technology to be employed in a wide range of portable, automotive and stationary applications.

However, PEFC systems, in particular those used in the automotive industry, are still commercially inferior to the commonly-used power conversion technologies such as the internal combustion engine (ICE); the cost of the automotive fuel cell system is, considering the current production rate which is of the order of few thousands of units per year, one order of magnitude higher than that of the ICE. The cost of the system is expected to significantly decrease and be competitive with the ICE system only if the production rate increases to at least 500,000 unit/year. However, it is unlikely that the production rate will substantially increase to the order of hundreds of thousands or even tens of thousands of units in the near future. Therefore, the only way for PEFC technology to widely emerge into the marketplace is to significantly reduce the cost of the materials used in the fuel cell and further enhance its efficiency through innovating new material structures and/or designs. For example, the material of the commonly-used membrane electrolyte is rather expensive and it does not function if water content is low; this drawback requires researchers to develop new materials for the membrane electrolyte that are significantly cheaper and/or have zero/less dependence on water content.

The scope of the Research Topic covers all the aspects associated with the PEFC technology, ranging from the molecular scale studies to the systems and applications. We therefore welcome theoretical and experimental investigations on, but not limited to, the following areas:
• platinum and non-platinum based catalysts
• membrane electrolytes
• PEFC porous media: gas diffusion layers and catalyst layers
• bipolar plates
• PEFC systems and applications


Keywords: PEFCs, Numerical Modelling, Characterisation, Porous Media, Catalysts


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Owing to its zero emission at the point of use and relatively high efficiency, polymer electrolyte fuel cell (PEFC) technology has been one of the promising power conversion technologies for low-carbon economy. PEFCs also feature some other appealing characteristics such as: low start-up temperature, ease of manufacture and sizing flexibility. These attributes have enabled the PEFC technology to be employed in a wide range of portable, automotive and stationary applications.

However, PEFC systems, in particular those used in the automotive industry, are still commercially inferior to the commonly-used power conversion technologies such as the internal combustion engine (ICE); the cost of the automotive fuel cell system is, considering the current production rate which is of the order of few thousands of units per year, one order of magnitude higher than that of the ICE. The cost of the system is expected to significantly decrease and be competitive with the ICE system only if the production rate increases to at least 500,000 unit/year. However, it is unlikely that the production rate will substantially increase to the order of hundreds of thousands or even tens of thousands of units in the near future. Therefore, the only way for PEFC technology to widely emerge into the marketplace is to significantly reduce the cost of the materials used in the fuel cell and further enhance its efficiency through innovating new material structures and/or designs. For example, the material of the commonly-used membrane electrolyte is rather expensive and it does not function if water content is low; this drawback requires researchers to develop new materials for the membrane electrolyte that are significantly cheaper and/or have zero/less dependence on water content.

The scope of the Research Topic covers all the aspects associated with the PEFC technology, ranging from the molecular scale studies to the systems and applications. We therefore welcome theoretical and experimental investigations on, but not limited to, the following areas:
• platinum and non-platinum based catalysts
• membrane electrolytes
• PEFC porous media: gas diffusion layers and catalyst layers
• bipolar plates
• PEFC systems and applications


Keywords: PEFCs, Numerical Modelling, Characterisation, Porous Media, Catalysts


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

25 June 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

25 June 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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