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The global direct methanol fuel cell market size was USD 1.73 million in 2020. The market is projected to grow from USD 2.00 million in 2021 to USD 5.85 million in 2028 at a CAGR of 16.6% in the 2021-2028 period. The global impact of COVID-19 has been unprecedented and staggering, with the market witnessing a negative impact on demand across all regions amid the pandemic. Based on our analysis, the global market exhibited a lower growth of -6.9% in 2020 than the average year-on-year growth during 2017-2019. The rise in CAGR is attributable to this market’s demand and growth, returning to pre-pandemic levels once the pandemic is over.
Direct methanol fuel cells are one of the leading fuel cell technologies that generate power or electricity by reforming pure methanol as fuel. The methanol is generally mixed with water and is fed directly to catalyst components. Since this fuel cell uses methanol as the fuel, they do not possess any storage problems as methanol has a higher energy density, due to which it can be easily transported and supplied as per requirement. These fuel cells are often used to power various applications such as stationary, portable, transportation. However, the DMFCs help establish hybrid systems with rechargeable batteries due to which it has a wide acceptance in portable applications such as laptops, mobiles, and others.
COVID-19: Disruptions in Production & Delivers Slow Down Growth amid Pandemic
In 2020, the global economy was significantly affected due to the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic and had unprecedented turbulence on the global energy market owing to a significant drop in mobility, shutting down of industries, reduction in road transportation, among others which have moderately affected the market growth. Besides, the travel restrictions and lockdown rules have also hindered the fuel cell purchasing potential, which has reduced the production and delivery of fuel cells. However, as per the International Monetary Fund (IMF), after a sharp decline in global industrial production, there are clear signs of recovery towards the end of the year.
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Increasing Focus on Clean Energy Sources to Spur Opportunities
DMFCs are a key technology for efficiently generating electrical energy by using methanol as a fuel. The increasing focus on adopting clean energy, better fuel efficiency has propelled the use of this fuel cells for several applications such as transportation, stationary, portable applications as fuel cell technology are expected to play a key role in the future when it comes to limiting the climate change through the reduction of global CO2 emissions and decarbonization. Governments and industry leaders worldwide are increasing the recognition of fuel cell technologies to decarbonize sectors and make a critical contribution to achieving sustainability goals and helping improve energy efficiency.
In 2020, government initiatives and initiatives by major companies had declared their support for leveraging the potential of DMFCs in the form of investment initiatives, among others. For instance, in September 2020, Toyota Tsusho Corporation has signed an agreement with SFC Energy AG to diversify SFC Energy’s compact fuel cells customers and contributing to the transition of low carbon society by expanding the use of eco-friendly fuel cells.
Durability of Direct Methanol Fuel Cell Likely to Drive Market Growth
Like other fuel cells, DMFCs operate without any parts, resulting in quiet operation compared to combustion engines or gas turbine engines. Additionally, there is hardly any mechanical friction due to the fewer moving parts, resulting in reduced wear & tear and low maintenance. The lower maintenance of technology results in applications downtime and operating cost, in the long run, resulting in more saving of money, which has aroused the strong interest of users in adopting the fuel cells.
Furthermore, this fuel cells can also be combined with other power generators, and are continuously gaining importance. For context, the DMFCs has been easily combined with power generators like solar panels, filling the gap of power generation during the darkness or low sunshine. Thereby increasing its adoption across renewable energy sources.
Methanol Being Feasible Fuel Source Acts as a Key Market Driver
DMFCs use methanol as a fuel that is denser and possesses a high density of energy compared to hydrogen gas, due to which it provides much better service. Additionally, methanol as liquid fuel is available in ample amounts and fuel cartages of various filling sizes so users or customers can get the right amount of them as per their requirements. Furthermore, the compact design of DMFC makes it smaller in size and weight, due to which they are easy to transport and can be safely taken anywhere.
Higher Cost of Direct Methanol Fuel Cell and Availability of Other Fuel Cell Systems Hinders Market Growth
The running of DMFCs possesses higher initial costs with significant operating expenses, hindering the market growth. The price of this fuel cells also depends upon the components used and the production rate of fuel cells. The use of this fuel cells is very less than other fuel cell types due to which the year-on-year production possesses a small growth rate compared to other fuel cell types, which results in increased cost of production. Moreover, as per the electrochemical Power Sources, the this fuel cells possess the cost of more than 10,000 EUR per kilowatt due to the systematic limitation of technology which is anticipated to be 49.5% costlier than other fuel cells types such as PEMFC and others.
Another factor, like the wide availability of other fuel cell technologies such as solid oxide fuel cells, proton-electron membrane fuel cells, and alkaline fuel cells, also hampers the growth of the of market. For instance, solid oxide fuel cells possess lower costs due to high power efficiency and are also accepted in wide applications.
Bipolar Plates to Hold Dominant Market Share through 2028
Based on the components, the market is bifurcated into bipolar plates, current collectors, catalysts, and membranes. The bipolar players account for the dominating direct methanol fuel cell market share. The bipolar plates are the key component in the system as they conduct current between the cell and facilitate the management of water and thermal through the cell. Additionally, the bipolar plates enhance the mass transport of higher current densities due to their low field patterns.
The catalyst is one of the important elements in a fuel cell as it influences the total system cost on large-scale production. The scale-up of catalyst production can reduce the amount of waste material and improve the yield of the process with environmental and cost benefits.
Another major component, such as membrane, also determines the cost of the fuel cell stack. The membrane component is used for surface treatments. Rising research efforts on membrane components for the fuel cell to improve the membranes, particularly with lower thickness and lower PFSA ratio than the present ones, are anticipated to hold a significant size, share during the forecast period.
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Portable Application to Hold Dominant Market Share during Forecast Period
Based on the applications, the market is segmented into portable transportation and stationary applications. DMFCs are the most feasible option in portable applications due to their high energy density, lightweight, compactness, simplicity, and easy and fast recharging. Additionally, the superior energy density of these fuel cells compared to rechargeable batteries translates to more conversation time & support consumer demand which also adds an advantage. Other advantages like potential refueling also place a significantly important development in the portable electronic devices market.
The transport application segment is majorly under the development stage. As menthol/DMFC can work at a lower temperature, it is feasible to store liquid on board, which acts as an important parameter for long-run transportation. Thereby, the transportation segment will be growing at a CAGR of 15.3% during the 2021 to 2028 period. Additionally, this is also used in stationary applications to efficiently produce electricity and applied to residential, commercial, and industrial sectors.
North America Direct Methanol Fuel Cell (DMFC) Market Size, 2020 (USD Million)
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The regional market analysis has been studied across North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, and the Rest of the World. The Asia Pacific accounted for the major share of total shipments of the fuel cell. However, since these fuel cells are much costlier than other fuel cells, it is expected that countries across North America and Europe will have a larger acceptance and share of the market.
Moreover, in North America, U.S. and Canada are playing an important role in the development of fuel cell technologies and continue to focus on their research & development programs which act as a significant factor in augmenting the direct methanol fuel cell market growth across the North American region.
The rising adoption of clean energy sources has created attractive opportunities for the market across the European region. For context, On April 08, 2021, SFC Energy AG one of the leading manufacturers of direct methanol fuel cells has joined the European Clean Hydrogen Alliance intending to validate various opportunities and measures to decarbonize the EU economy.
Countries in the Asia Pacific are making investments in clean energy technology to depilate dependency on fossil fuels and achieve carbon neutrality in coming years which is projected to improve the market landscape across the region. For context, in 2020, Australia and Japan together have signed a statement of cooperation to build hydrogen and fuel cell technologies to decarbonize their energy systems. Additionally, Roland Gumpert and Chinese electric mobility player Aiways’s joint venture Gumpert Airways has announced the start of the production of Nathalie, its methanol-powered fuel cell sports coupe.
Other countries across the globe are also showing their interest DMFC technologies in different applications verticals such as portable applications, transportation which includes buses, passenger vehicles to support the transition of clean energy. For example, New Zealand’s Government has committed to phasing out diesel buses by 2035 and focuses on zero-emission vehicle options such as Fuel Cell Electric Bus (FCEB) for long-term options of clean energy.
Key Participants Are Emphasizing Enhancing their Product Efficiencies
In fuel cell’s DMFC market, various key players are delivering scale products for numerous applications shaping the competitive landscape. Major key players operating in the market are SFC Energy AG, Blue World Technologies, and others that focus on improving product capability with a rising shift towards clean energy. For example, In September 2020, SFC Energy has announced its cooperation with propulsion at the INTERBOOT industry trade show in Friedrichshafen. The cooperation includes delivering the solution of EFOY direct methanol fuel cell to all the boat users and sailors seeking to increase the life of their engine and more working range.
An Infographic Representation of Direct Methanol Fuel Cells Market
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The market research report presents a comprehensive industry assessment by offering valuable insights, facts, industry-related information, and historical data. Several methodologies and approaches are adopted to make meaningful assumptions and views to formulate the market research report. Furthermore, the report covers a detailed analysis of market segments, including components, applications, and regions, helping our readers get a comprehensive overview of the global industry.
Value (USD Million)
By Components, By Applications, and By Region
As per the Fortune Business Insights study, the global direct methanol fuel cell market was USD 1.73 million in 2020.
The global direct methanol fuel cell market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 16.6% in the forecasted period.
The direct methanol fuel cell market size of North America stood at USD 1.01 million in 2020.
Based on the applications, the portable segment holds the dominating share in the global market.
The global market size is expected to reach USD 5.85 million by 2028.
One of the key market drivers is the durability of direct methanol fuel cells which results in lower maintenance costs. Other than that, easy handling of methanol as fuel also drives the adoption of methanol-based fuel cells.
The top players in the market are SFC Energy AG, Blue World Technologies, Oorja Photonics Inc., Viaspace, Roland Gumpert, Antig Technologies among others.
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