Fuel cell membranes – Pros and cons

Emmanuel Ogungbemi, Oluwatosin Ijaodola, F.n. Khatib, Tabbi Wilberforce, Zaki El Hassan, James Thompson, Mohamad Ramadan, A.g. Olabi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This investigation provides a critical analysis of the development of PEM fuel cells and related research with specific focus on the membrane material. The catalytic membrane is the most important component of the PEMFC giving rise to the need for the use of efficient, durable and cheap material to reduce the overall cost of the fuel cell. In this work, the need for materials other than Nafion to be used as PEM membranes is established and a case for the use of composite membranes material in fuel cells is made. Composite membranes increase the cell voltage by up to 11% even at high cell operating temperature of 95°C. They also increase the overall performance of the cell by up to 17% when dry hydrogen is utilised.

Non-fluorinated membranes are also suitable for use in fuel cells for portable applications but they are very expensive and less conductive. Partially fluorinated membranes have good mechanical stability but expensive. The fluorinated membrane has high stability under oxidation and reduction conditions. Unfortunately, they only reach their optimum performance at temperatures below 100°C which makes them of limited use in PEM fuel cells application at higher temperatures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155-172
Number of pages18
Early online date11 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2019

Bibliographical note

© 2019, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/


  • Bipolar plate (BP) and gas diffusion layer (GDL)
  • Composite membrane
  • Electro-catalyst layer
  • PEM fuel cells
  • Proton electron membrane (PEM)


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