Recovery of waste heat from proton exchange membrane fuel cells – A review

Tabbi Wilberforce, A. G. Olabi, Muhammad Imran, Abed Alaswad, Enas Taha Sayed, Ahmed G. Abo-Khalil, Hussein M. Maghrabie, Khaled Elsaid, Mohammad Ali Abdelkareem*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This work discusses the novel application of proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFC) in the transport sector as well as portable applications. This kind of fuel cell produces a considerable quantity of heat while in operation. This quantity of heat is about 45–60% of entire energy composition of the hydrogen that is introduced into the cell. A correctly built cooling system must be used to efficiently eliminate produced heat from the stack to extend the stack's life and preserve its efficiency throughout its entire lifespan. Using appropriate thermal management techniques coupled with exploiting possibilities for fuel cell heat recovery may significantly improve size, cost, etc., while also reducing its total energy consumption. It is possible to collect and utilise the heat produced by PEMFC in other applications. A thorough analysis of heat recovery possibilities in this type of fuel cells is presented in this investigation. Similarly, the study further touched on the need for experimental studies into waste heat recovery from proton exchange membrane fuel cells as most of the recent work being championed are modelling based and does not really present a real life scenario of the system investigated. The need for investigations into the environmental performance of the waste heat recovery unit coupled to the proton exchange fuel cell system is also another important research direction that must be considered in future studies. Finally most of the studies on waste heat recovery from fuel cells have largely employed the use of organic Rankine cycle but other types of thermodynamic cycles like Kalina cycle is however recommended for further investigations due to their range of operation hence making them suitable for low and high temperature proton exchange membrane fuel cells.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Hydrogen Energy
Early online date14 Sept 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 Sept 2022


  • Metal hydride
  • Organic rankine cycle
  • Portable applications
  • Proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFC)
  • Transportation
  • Waste heat recovery


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