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Fuel cell is an electrochemical energy conversion device. It was first conceived by Sir William Grove in 1839, but has taken more than a hundred year for the technology to become actively researched for commercial application.
Fuel cell converts chemical energy from hydrogen and oxygen directly into electrical energy with only water as the exhaust. Hence, the electrochemical conversion in fuel cell has better efficiency compared to combustion system. Fuel cell is the potential replacement for other conventional power sources in line with the global demand for cleaner environment using renewable energy source.
Polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cell is the most likely alternative to the internal combustion engine as the power generating system for the 21st century. UKM Fuel Cell Research Group is the pioneer in PEM fuel cell development in Malaysia and the main proponent of conversion to renewable energy in Malaysia to meet the global challenge in research and development for environmental friendly power sources.
Although fuel cell research in Malaysia was first mooted in 1989 by colleagues from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), Pusat Penyelidikan Tenaga Atom Tun Ismail (PUSPATI) and Tenaga Nasional Berhad, but it was only started in UKM in 1994 with the first single cell PEM fuel cell prototype.
This group is the oldest one in Fuel Cell Institute. The research projects of this group are focused on design, manufacture and control of PEM fuel cell stack. Some publications and awards have been granted by this group based on the inventions from the researches. The achievements are: LESTARI (1 kW) Portable Fuel Cell Power Generator, LESTARI’s Open Air Cathode Fuel Cell Stack, SERINDIT II (200 W) Fuel Cell Motorcycle, SERINDIT I (60 W) Fuel Cell Scooter, CHEM-E-CAR (10 W) Fuel Cell Demo Car, Prototype Membrane Reactor to Produce Pure Hydrogen, and Prototype Compact Pressure Swing Adsorption System for H2 Purification.