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proton exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMFC)

Fuel cells are divided into low-temperature fuel cells and high-temperature fuel cells. The PEM fuel cell, Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell (PEMFC) or Polymer Electrolyte Fuel Cell (PEFC), belongs to the former group, the SO fuel cell, Solid Oxide

Fuel Cell (SOFC), to the latter. The PEM fuel cell

uses hydrogen

(H2) and oxygen (O2) to convert chemical energy into electrical energy.The process is equivalent to the reverse of electrolysis.

Structure of the PEMFC fuel cell

Structure of the PEMFC fuel cell

The PEM fuel cell consists of the anode and the cathode, which is coated with platinum or a platinum compound such as platinum-nickel or platinum-cobalt. The platinum serves as a catalyst without which hydrogen and oxygen cannot react. Between the two electrodes is a thin polymer membrane made of ceramic material, the proton exchange membrane (PEM), which acts as the central component. It is permeable to hydrogen ions (protons), but not to the electrons that have been removed from

the hydrogen atoms. The protons react with oxygen at the cathode to form water.

The different fuel cells and their characteristics

The different fuel cells and their characteristics

In the electrochemical reaction, the oxidation reaction at the anode produces protons and electrons. As for the reduction reaction at the cathode, protons and electrons are combined there with oxidizing agents to form water. In the chemical reaction, the polymer membrane plays the crucial role for proton exchange because it conducts the protons from the anode to the cathode. The proton exchange membrane also serves as a separator

for separating the anode and cathode reactants in fuel cells and electrolyzers. The operating temperature of the PEM fuel cell is between 60 °C and 120 °C, and the efficiency is about 60 %. The waste heat is between 60 °C and 80 °C. PEM fuel cells can generate electrical power from 0.3 W up to 500 kW. PEM fuel cells are suitable for use in electric vehicles, in buses, trucks, trams and ships.

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Englisch: proton exchange membrane fuel cell - PEMFC
Updated at: 04.03.2021
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