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Fuel Cell Membrance Electrode Assembly to Enhance the Green Technology. 2011. Penerbit UKM: Bangi. ISBN 978-967-942-999-2 (paperback). 86 pages. inaugural Lecture Series. Abdul Amir H. Kadhum
Fuel cell technology using hydrogen energy is an advanced green energy technology for the future that is sustainable and environmental friendly. It may be considered as energy revolution due to its high efficiency of energy conservation, low pollution level, low noise and low maintenance costs making it preferable over other energy conversion devices. The finite world energy supply that consists nearly 90% of fossil fuel will be depleted in a short period of time precipitating an energy crisis because of widening fossil fuel production and demand gap. Despite political announcements on renewable energy, fossil fuels will continue to dominate energy resources for some time to come and carbon emission will increase but global nuclear energy expansion is uncertain because of international tensions and general public fears of another Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear plant disasters or a nuclear terrorist attack. Realizing importance of R&D on fuel cell has shifted the motive in the direction of more promising Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell (PEMFC), Direct Methanol Fuel Cell (DMFC) and Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC).
The main thrust in PEMFC R&D is economic optimization of membrane and electrocatalyst by substitution with cheaper and more efficient organic-inorganic nanocomposite membranes and nanoinorganic electrocatalyst as well as lower electrocatalyst loading. The cost reduction is further enhanced of bipolar plate by material reformulation with nanomaterials for injection or compression molding. In addition, cost reduction can also be achieved by reduction of system complexity using non-hydrated or self-hydrated membranes that eliminate water management sub-system and CO tolerant anodes that eliminate purification of reformate hydrogen feed. PEMFC system efficiency can be further enhanced by better design of flow field in bipolar plates and air manifold in the stack as well as through process optimization using process system engineering tools. The prime requirement of fuel cell is the membrane electrode in which often stated to be the heart of the Proton Electrolytic Membrane Fuel cell (PEMFC) technology. The advancing achievements in assembly technology of the membrane electrode have accelerated the applications of the fuel cell as a power source for transportation, stationary distributive power, and in small-scale applications such as portable electronic devices. Membrane Electrode Assembly (MEA) at present time is lacking of durability, high manufacturing costs, and rapid degradation. These factors overshadow the technology's potential benefits and have prevented fuel cells from entering the mainstream markets. A revolutionary method is needed for building an MEA with a high speed manufacturing supported by quality control in order to achieve a volume bringing down the component cost to the budget of the customer. The incorporation of a unique polymer membrane that can be applied to both fluorinated sulfonic acid and hydrocarbon-based to produce superior electrode performance in the aspect of high conductivity, stability, and durability during harsh fuel cell operation need to be addressed. New membrane materials derived from available materials such as polystyrene, butadiene and isoprene polymer with high sulfonation and minimum dependent on platinum by developing the cheapest metals or adopting organic catalyst will play a key factor on cutting the fuel cell cost by at least 50%. On the operational side, the type of fuel and the standard of regulation on hydrogen and hydrogen storage, transportation and distribution for electrical power station require high purity grade with acceptable cost to provide electrode durability and lasting fuel cell operation. At the present time, there are no readily available sources of hydrogen with widespread delivery infrastructure. There are two major approaches to solving this issue. In the shorter term, the industry may use fossil fuels to generate hydrogen as required. This pure hydrogen is either in high-pressure gas form or as a liqnid to be delivered to fuel cell users. In long term, however, the source of hydrogen and methanol has to be generated from renewable sources to fulfill the mission of using fuel cell as environmental conservation technology.