About the Article

Proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells are renowned for their exceptional efficiency, low emissions, ability to operate at low temperatures, and compact form factor. In the context of combating climate change, the economic viability of PEM fuel cell systems relies on reducing their costs. This article by Shinichi Nishimura, Gore’s Global Product Specialist, investigates how PEM technology can effectively decrease production and maintenance expenses for commercial fuel cell vehicles, while simultaneously enhancing power output and fuel efficiency, resulting in minimized total cost of ownership (TCO).

As electric powertrains rapidly transition from a niche market to the preferred option for future passenger vehicles, medium and heavy-duty trucks are set to follow suit. While reducing initial capital costs remains a common goal for fuel cell manufacturers, it is crucial to recognize that stack costs are just one piece of the puzzle. The industry acknowledges the imperative to achieve TCO parity with other alternatives. Consequently, a comprehensive examination of TCO encompasses various aspects such as vehicle cost, system design considerations, maintenance costs, repair frequency and complexity considerations, fuel cost, cost per distance considerations, and operating costs, including variable workforce expenses.

Understanding how PEM attributes contribute to TCO reduction is essential. PEMs can be harnessed to enhance fuel efficiency and optimize system design, ultimately achieving TCO parity. An exemplary illustration of GORE-SELECT® Membranes shows their impact on TCO through high proton conductivity. This enables the utilization of smaller stacks and systems, facilitating the implementation of simpler balance of plant (BOP) components and more streamlined cell designs, resulting in highly efficient fuel cell systems. Moreover, GORE-SELECT® Membrane ensures optimal water management, potentially eliminating the need for external humidifiers, resulting in reduced maintenance expenses.

In the forthcoming years, the number of hydrogen-powered vehicles and hydrogen applications beyond transportation is expected to grow significantly. A systematic approach to selecting PEM attributes will accelerate manufacturers' progress toward a future characterized by low TCO.

Let's join forces in shaping a future driven by cost-effective and sustainable fuel cell solutions. Download the full article to gain comprehensive insights into the strategies for minimizing fuel cell system TCO.


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