Three of the major current criticisms regarding proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells for hydrogen autos has been cost, cold-cranking power and durability. The cost has come down dramatically within the past 3 years and will continue to descend as new technology is developed and production lines assembled for higher volume orders.
Cold-cranking power, or cold start capabilities, as some are calling it has also been addressed recently by several manufacturers who have developed fuel cells that can start in temperatures as low is -30 C to -40 C. Durability, however, still remains an issue for most PEM fuel cell manufacturers.
For instance, General Motors will be rolling out the Chevy Equinox Fuel Cell SUV to 100 select individuals in the third quarter of 2007. The Equinox’s fuel cell, however, is only rated at 50,000 miles.
In order to address the durability issue in PEM fuel cells, DuPont has just announced the Introduction of its Nafion XL extended life PEM membrane. The Nafion XL membrane coupled with DuPont’s new high durability electrodes is expected to increase the current assemblies by up to 10 times while decreasing fluorine emission rates by up to 30-percent.