Technical and Commercial Challenges of Proton-Exchange Membrane (PEM) Fuel Cells

Abed Alaswad*, Abdelnasir Omran, Jose Ricardo Sodre, Tabbi Wilberforce, Gianmichelle Pignatelli, Michele Dassisti, Ahmad Baroutaji, Abdul Ghani Olabi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


This review critically evaluates the latest trends in fuel cell development for portable and stationary fuel cell applications and their integration into the automotive industry. Fast start-up, high efficiency, no toxic emissions into the atmosphere and good modularity are the key advantages of fuel cell applications. Despite the merits associated with fuel cells, the high cost of the technology remains a key factor impeding its widespread commercialization. Therefore, this review presents detailed information into the best operating conditions that yield maximum fuel cell performance. The paper recommends future research geared towards robust fuel cell geometry designs, as this determines the cell losses, and material characterization of the various cell components. When this is done properly, it will support a total reduction in the cost of the cell which in effect will reduce the total cost of the system. Despite the strides made by the fuel cell research community, there is a need for public sensitization as some people have reservations regarding the safety of the technology. This hurdle can be overcome if there is a well-documented risk assessment, which also needs to be considered in future research activities.
Original languageEnglish
Article number144
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 29 Dec 2020

Bibliographical note

© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.
This article is an open access article
distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https://


  • fuel cell
  • optimization
  • efficiency
  • automotive industry
  • electric vehicles


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