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Fuel cells are electrochemical devices that convert chemical energy from the reactants directly into electricity. The fuel cell works on two basic elements such as oxygen and hydrogen. The introduction of fuel cells has also caused a positive impact for various industries, due to its benefits such as flexibility, greater efficiency and almost zero emission. Fuel cells have higher efficiency than diesel or gas engines, they operate silently and are ideally suited for use within buildings such as hospitals. However, fuel cells do not emit carbon dioxide after burning but they give out nitrogen which can be still harmful when inhaled by humans.
On the basis of type, fuel cell can be bifurcated into Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC), Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell (PEMC), Molten Carbonate Fuel Cell (MCFC), Phosphoric Acid Fuel Cell (PAFC), Alkaline Fuel Cell (AFC), Direct Methanol Fuel Cell (DMFC), and others. SOFC are highly consumed in large and small stationary power generation. Whereas PEMC cells operate at relatively low temperatures and can convert the electrical output to fulfill the demand of dynamic power requirements, they are currently the leading technology for light-duty vehicles and materials handling vehicles. Alkaline fuel cell consumes hydrogen and pure oxygen for the production of potable water, heat, and electricity. AFC’s are the cheapest of fuel cells to manufacture because the required electrodes can be of any number of different chemicals which are not expensive compared to those which are required for other types of fuel cells.
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On the basis of application, the fuel cell market is segmented into portable, stationary, and transportation. Fuel cells are highly used in transportation. Automotive manufacturers are inclined towards fuel cell technology which can reproduce fuel from local sources and produces low emissions. Compressed hydrogen is commonly used by fuel cell vehicles as a type of fuel, although several manufacturers have also demonstrated methanol fuel cell vehicles. Fuel cells are used for electricity generation in stationary applications, eg., telecommunication base stations.
The key market driver for the fuel cell market is the basic element, i.e., hydrogen, which is abundant in the universe. Hydrogen is non-polluting and has the highest energy content which makes it more reliable for consumption purposes. In addition, the consumers are interested in zero-emission cars which have led to an increase in OEM’s (Original Equipment Manufacturer) investing in fuel cell electric.
The key market restraint for the fuel cell market is the high cost of hydrogen as it is difficult to generate, handle, and store. It also requires bulky tanks for storage which are to be stored at a moderate temperature containing carbon or metal-hybrid absorber; which are currently very expensive.
Some of the major companies that are present in the global fuel cells market are Toshiba, Ballard Power Systems, Hydrogenics Corporation, Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies, Fuel Cell Energy, Inc., Doosan Fuel Cell America, Aisin Seiki co., Ltd., Nuvera Fuel Cells, SFC Group, Ceramic Fuel Cells, Ltd., Bloom Energy, Plug Power, Nedstack Fuel Cell Technology BV, UTC Power Corporation, and Arcola Energy.
· Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC)
· Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell (PEMFC)
· Molten Carbonate Fuel Cell (MCFC)
· Phosphoric Acid Fuel Cell (PAFC)
· Alkaline Fuel Cell (AFC)
· Direct Methanol Fuel Cell (DMFC)
· North America (the USA and Canada)
· Europe (UK, Germany, France, Netherlands, Norway, Russia and Rest of Europe)
· Asia Pacific (Japan, China, India, Australia, Southeast Asia and Rest of Asia Pacific)
· Latin America (Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Venezuela, Chile and Rest of Latin America)
· Middle East & Africa (South Africa, GCC, Nigeria and Rest of the Middle East & Africa)
The global fuel cells market has been segmented into North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Latin America, and Middle East & Africa. In North America, private players along with government energy bodies are encouraging fuel cell induced energy generation as they are considering it as a prime source of secured energy in the upcoming future. In Europe, Germany has a strong hold over the fuel cell market and is focused on the improvement of fuel cell infrastructure. Due to the increase in household applications of fuel cells in the Asia Pacific, it is expected to hold the largest market share. The companies are expanding into emerging markets such as Latin America by doing agreements, collaborations & partnerships which will help the companies penetrate the existing market, and expand into the new emerging markets. The Middle East and Africa offer major growth potential to the fuel cell market, due to its portable and off-grid applications.
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