Materials market for PEM fuel cells is set to exceed US$8 billion by 2034.

Materials for PEM Fuel Cells 2024-2034: Technologies, Markets, Players

Granular ten-year market forecasts for the material demand for PEM fuel cells used in the transportation industry based on extensive research of OEMs, material suppliers, manufacturers of key components: BPPs, GDLs, ionomer membranes, CCMs and MEAs.

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Materials demand for proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells is set to grow in line with an expanding fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) market, as the hydrogen economy continues to gain traction. This report details the key information for components in PEM fuel cells such as bipolar plates (BPP), gas diffusion layers (GDL), catalyst coated membrane (CCM), membrane electrode assemblies (MEA), ionomers, platinum catalysts and more.
A PEM fuel cell operates via the synergistic interaction of the various components. The BPP distributes fuel throughout the fuel cell, before the GDL transports reactants and products to/from the catalyst layer, respectively. The catalyst is coated on the membrane (CCM), while the membrane itself transports protons from one side of the fuel cell to the other. Collectively, the CCM and GDL are known as an MEA. The PEM fuel cell for transportation market is set to grow at a CAGR of 28% between 2024 and 2034, but there are key questions to be answered with respect to the components used in fuel cells. What are the trends seen for incumbent and emerging materials? How will manufacturing methods for these components change to meet increased demand? Who are the main players within the expanding fuel cell components market?
Technology trends for PEM fuel cell components
This report gives a breakdown of the key components within a fuel cell, detailing the incumbent materials and technologies used in each instance. Analysis of supply chains and major players within the industry builds an overview of the market as a whole. However, even for the incumbent materials, there is still scope for variations to the technology based on materials selection. Taking the example of BPPs, typical material choice includes plates made from either metal (e.g. titanium, stainless steel) or graphite. This report provides benchmarking of metal and graphite plates, highlighting the particular vehicle types (passenger cars, vans, trucks and buses alongside ships and trains) for which each material is most well suited.
Despite dominant incumbent materials, such as Nafion for ionomer membranes, disruptive technologies are beginning to emerge, showing signs of early promise, while potential regulations restricting PFAS materials could heavily impact the market. Novel materials, coatings and manufacturing techniques are seen at academic stage, with some early commercial uptake, and analysis of these disruptions to the incumbent are included in this report. A comprehensive analysis of alternative polymer exchange membranes was carried out and these are benchmarked against the incumbent, Nafion, for the most important parameters to ensure optimal performance of the fuel cell.
Economy of scale to reduce cost of components
FCEVs are yet to achieve similar market penetration seen for battery electric vehicles (BEV), and while IDTechEx expects BEVs to dominate the zero-emission vehicles market, the drive towards zero-emission vehicles is expected to see FCEVs capture a growing share of the overall vehicles sector; IDTechEx predicts the combined FCEV market to exceed US$35 billion by 2035. In particular, FCEVs show promise for the heavy-duty sector, powering trucks, ships and trains that can operate as hub-to-hub connectors for the supply chain, mitigating the need for a diverse hydrogen fuel infrastructure. This increasing market share will see higher material demand for all of the components within PEM fuel cells, and a major outcome of this will be a reduction in cost of components as the economy of scale takes hold.
This report outlines several paths by which the cost of components will reduce, from optimization of incumbent technology to emerging materials and automated manufacturing systems. For the case of BPP materials, a detailed overview is given of the diverse range of manufacturers and the various materials and manufacturing techniques currently implemented, and those that are proposed, with a discussion of the related price progression per plate as wider-scale uptake of fuel cell powered transportation occurs.
Market drivers: Catalysts for research and development
As governments seek to enact policy to assist the implementation of zero emission vehicles, specifically in urban environments, several government agencies have set targets for manufacturers and material suppliers to work towards, with the overall goal of reducing the cost of fuel cell technology to enable competition with BEVs and traditional internal combustion engine vehicles. This report covers the manner in which these targets impact the materials market for fuel cells, such as how US Department of Energy's (DOE) targets for the mass of catalyst in fuel cells is influencing the areas of material R&D.
Other factors driving R&D include the economic value of materials and efficiency of the fuel cell stack. The manner in which emerging materials can replace platinum in the fuel cell and reduce the cost of the catalyst (and CCM) is covered in the report, while the desire to increase the power density of the stack by reducing the form factor of components is most clearly evident in the development of thinner BPPs. The report covers novel coating techniques and manufacturing methods for producing these plates.
Comprehensive analysis and market forecasts
IDTechEx covers the electric vehicle industry comprehensively, detailing BEVs and FCEVs, alongside ships and trains; with the FCEV research segmented by passenger car, light commercial vehicle (van), heavy duty trucks and city buses. Expertise on technical and market developments is built through interviewing major players on the global scale and attending several conferences.
This report offers granular 10-year market forecasts, derived from IDTechEx forecasts in the FCEV industry, for the materials demand for PEMFCs in transportation applications for key fuel cell components (BPP, GDL, CCM, MEA, ionomer, etc) segmented by mode of transport and vehicle type. Forecasts are given for materials demand for components by both units and volume, while detailing the value associated with each of these components.
This report provides the following information:
Technology trends:
  • Breakdown of the major components within a PEM fuel cell.
  • Comparison of various fuel cell technologies and applications.
  • Detailed discussion of considerations for component form factor and materials choice for PEM fuel cells for transportation.
  • Thorough comparison between incumbent materials and emerging technologies, including cost progression analysis.
  • Overview of dominant players and supply chain agreements for BPPs, GDLs, MEAs, and more.
  • Exploration of latest academic research with potential to disrupt the PEM fuel cell market through innovative technological advancements.
  • Primary information from key companies.
Value chain analysis:
  • Identification of the established players in the industry, including analysis of incumbent technologies, market share and existing supply chain agreements with OEMs.
  • BPP: Discussion of materials, coatings and manufacturing methods used by more than ten of the market leaders.
  • GDL: Outline of the major technological differentiators between the major players with information regarding supply chain and material demand.
  • Ionomer: Discussion of dominant incumbent material and supplier, with a quantitative analysis of emerging alternative suppliers. Overview of the market impact of potential PFAS regulations.
  • Catalysts: Assessment of the key trends and regulations driving the sector and influencing key players.
Market Forecasts & Analysis:
  • 10-year granular market forecasts by material demand, volume and value for key components in PEM fuel cells: BPP, GDL, MEA, CCM including ionomer and catalysts.
Report MetricsDetails
Historic Data2018 - 2023
CAGRThe global market for materials for PEM fuel cell will exceed USD$8 billion by 2034, representing a CAGR of 28% over the coming decade.
Forecast Period2024 - 2034
Segments CoveredBipolar plates (Titanium, Stainless steel, Aluminium, Graphite, Composite), Gas diffusion layer (micro- and macro-porous layers), ionomers (fluoropolymers, hydrocarbons, MOFs).
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Table of Contents
1.1.Report Overview
1.2.What is a PEM fuel cell?
1.3.Major components for PEM fuel cells
1.4.Applications for fuel cells and major players
1.5.BPP: Purpose and form factor
1.6.Materials for BPPs: Graphite vs metal
1.7.BPP manufacturers flow chart
1.8.GDL: Purpose and form factor
1.9.GDL supply chain and key players
1.10.Membrane: Purpose and form factor
1.11.Market leaders for membrane materials
1.12.Property benchmarking of membranes
1.13.Ongoing Concerns with PFAS
1.14.Outlook for Proton Exchange Membranes
1.15.Catalyst: Purpose and form factor
1.16.Trends for fuel cell catalysts
1.17.Key suppliers of catalysts for fuel cells
1.18.Balance of plant for PEM fuel cells
1.19.Overview of market forecasts
1.20.PEM fuel cell market for transport 2020-2034
1.21.Fuel cells within the FCEV market
2.1.1.Forecast methodology and assumptions
2.1.2.PEM Fuel Cell Demand for Transportation (MW) 2020-2034
2.1.3.PEM fuel cell market for transport 2020-2033
2.2.Market Forecasts - Bipolar Plates
2.2.1.BPP demand by vehicle type 2020-2034
2.2.2.BPP demand by plate material 2020-2034
2.2.3.BPP material demand by plate material 2020-2034
2.2.4.BPP market value by plate material 2020-2034
2.3.Market Forecasts - Gas Diffusion Layer
2.3.1.GDL demand forecast 2020-2034
2.3.2.GDL materials demand 2020-2034
2.3.3.GDL market value forecast 2020-2034
2.4.Market Forecasts - Membrane, Catalyst and CCM
2.4.1.PEM demand forecast 2020-2034
2.4.2.PEM value forecast 2020-2034
2.4.3.Catalyst (PGM) demand forecast 2020-2034
2.4.4.CCM value forecast 2020-2034
3.1.Introduction to fuel cells
3.2.What is a fuel cell?
3.3.PEMFC working principle
3.4.PEMFC assembly and materials
3.5.Membrane assembly terminology
3.6.Alternative fuel cell technologies
3.7.High temperature PEMFC (1)
3.8.High temperature PEMFC (2)
3.9.Comparison of fuel cell technologies
3.10.What is a fuel cell vehicle?
3.11.Attraction of fuel cell vehicles
3.12.Transport applications for fuel cells
3.13.PEMFC market players
3.14.China fuel cell installed capacity 2020
3.15.Other Chinese fuel cell system manufacturers
4.1.Fuel cell passenger cars
4.2.System Efficiency Between BEVs and FCEVs
4.3.Fuel Cell Car Models
4.4.Toyota Mirai 2nd generation
4.5.Hyundai NEXO
4.6.Honda discontinue FC-Clarity: Weak demand
4.7.Korea subsidy incentives: FCEV push but BEV far ahead
4.8.Chinese FCEV Support
4.9.Outlook for fuel cell cars
4.10.Light commercial vehicles (LCVs) - Vans
4.11.Fuel cell LCVs
4.12.Outlook for fuel cell LCVs
4.13.Truck Classifications
4.14.Heavy-Duty Trucks: BEV or Fuel Cell?
4.15.Outlook for fuel cell trucks
4.16.Fuel cell buses
4.17.Main advantages/disadvantages of fuel cell buses
4.18.Outlook for fuel cell buses
4.19.FCEV vs BEV Market Share in 2044
5.1.Overview of Train Types
5.2.Drivers for Zero-emission Rail
5.3.Fuel Cell Train Overview
5.4.Range Advantage for Fuel Cell Trains
5.5.Fuel Cell Technology Benchmarking for Rail
5.6.Rail Fuel Cell Suppliers
5.7.FC Multiple Unit Overview
5.8.FC Locomotives Overview
5.9.Outlook for Fuel Cell & Electric Trains
6.1.Marine Fuel Cells Introduction
6.2.Fuel Cells Technologies for Ships
6.3.Fuel Cell Suppliers: Leaders & Challengers
6.4.Fuel Cell Supplier Market Share 2019-2024
6.5.Fuel Cell Deliveries by Vessel Type 2019-2024
6.6.Policy Drivers for Maritime Fuel Cells
6.7.Outlook for Marine PEM Fuel Cells
7.1.1.Purpose of bipolar plate
7.1.2.BPP form factor
7.1.3.Effect of BPP form factor
7.1.4.Bipolar plate assembly (BPA)
7.2.Materials for BPPs
7.2.1.Important material parameters to consider for BPPs
7.2.2.Graphite as a BPP material
7.2.3.Metal as a BPP material
7.2.4.Cost progression of BPAs
7.2.5.Coatings are required for metal BPPs
7.2.6.Coating choices for metal BPPs
7.2.7.Manufacturing methods for BPPs
7.2.8.BPP manufacturers flow chart
7.3.BPP manufacturers
7.3.1.Overview of BPP Suppliers (non-exhaustive list)
7.3.2.Case Study (NC Titanium): Kobe Steel
7.3.3.Case Study (Dual Supply): Dana
7.3.4.Case Study (Graphite): SGL Carbon
7.3.5.Case Study (Graphite Composite): FJ Composite
7.3.6.Case Study (System Supplier): Schuler
7.3.7.Case Study (Laser Etch): SITEC
7.3.8.Case Study (Chemical Etch): Precision Micro
7.3.9.Comparison of graphite BPP suppliers
7.3.10.Ranked comparison of graphite BPPs
7.4.BPP coating specialists
7.4.1.Impact Coating
7.5.Latest trends and research for BPPs
7.5.1.Future directions for bipolar plate flow fields
7.5.2.Printed Circuit Board BPPs - Bramble Energy
7.5.3.Latest trends for BPPs
7.5.4.Latest developments for BPPs: Loop Energy
7.5.5.Latest developments for BPPs: CoBiP project
7.5.6.Additional early-stage commercial developments for BPPs
7.5.7.Latest academic research for BPPs
7.5.8.Woven mesh for fuel cells
7.5.9.Emerging manufacturing methods
8.1.1.Role of the gas diffusion layer
8.1.2.Hydrophobic coating for GDLs
8.1.3.Wet vs dry GDL performance
8.1.4.GDL manufacturing process
8.1.5.Cellulosic fiber GDL: No MPL required
8.1.6.Interactions between GDL & catalyst layer
8.1.7.GDL latest research: Focus on dual hydrophobic and hydrophilic behaviour
8.2.GDL Supply Chain and Players
8.2.1.GDL supply chain
8.2.2.GDL player: SGL Carbon
8.2.3.GDL player: Toray
8.2.4.GDL player: AvCarb
8.2.5.GDL player: Freudenberg
8.2.6.SGL Carbon - GDL market leader
8.2.7.Outlook for Gas Diffusion Layers
9.1.1.Purpose of the membrane
9.1.2.Form factor of the membrane
9.1.3.Water management in the FC
9.2.Incumbent membrane materials
9.2.1.Proton exchange membrane overview
9.2.2.Chemical structure of PFSA membranes
9.2.3.Important material parameters to consider for the membrane
9.2.4.Market leading membrane material: Nafion
9.2.5.Competing membrane materials
9.2.6.Property benchmarking of membranes
9.2.7.Overview of PFSA membranes & key players
9.2.8.Gore manufacture MEAs
9.2.9.Membrane degradation processes overview
9.3.Production of PFSA membranes
9.3.1.PFSA membrane extrusion casting process
9.3.2.PFSA membrane solution casting process
9.3.3.PFSA membrane dispersion casting process
9.4.Recent innovation of PFSA membranes
9.4.1.Improvements to PFSA membranes
9.4.2.Trade-offs in optimizing membrane performance
9.4.3.Gore reinforced SELECT membranes
9.4.4.Chemours reinforced Nafion membranes
9.5.Concerns with PFAS (incl. PFSA)
9.5.1.Introduction to PFAS
9.5.2.What is the Concern?
9.5.3.Where Are PFAS Used?
9.5.4.Regulatory Outlook: EU
9.5.5.Regulatory Outlook: USA
9.5.6.Dutch Court Ruling on Environmental Damage Caused by PFAS Materials
9.5.7.Comments from Market Leader (Chemours)
9.6.Alternative (non-PFAS) membranes
9.6.1.Hydrocarbons as PEM fuel cell membranes
9.6.2.Assessment of hydrocarbon membranes
9.6.3.Key player: Ionomr Innovations
9.6.4.Benchmarking of Ionomr membrane against incumbent PFAS membrane
9.6.5.Metal-organic frameworks
9.6.6.Metal-organic frameworks for membranes: Academic research
9.6.7.MOF composite membranes
9.6.8.MOF composite membranes
9.6.9.Graphene in the membrane
9.6.10.Outlook for Proton Exchange Membranes
10.1.1.Platinum as a catalyst
10.1.2.Catalyst coated membrane (CCM)
10.1.3.Typical catalyst coated membrane (CCM)
10.1.4.Influence of carbon black support on Pt/C
10.1.5.Targets for reducing loading of catalytic materials in fuel cells
10.1.6.Recycling of the catalyst
10.1.7.Catalyst degradation mechanisms
10.1.8.Overview of trends for catalysts
10.1.9.Increasing catalytic activity - alternative metals
10.1.10.Increasing catalytic activity - form factor
10.1.11.SonoTek - Ultrasonic Deposition
10.1.12.Mebius - Pt Skin over Catalyst Core
10.1.13.Reduction of catalyst poisoning
10.1.14.Reduction of cost of catalyst
10.1.15.Future directions for catalysts
10.2.Key Suppliers of Catalysts
10.2.1.Leading catalyst suppliers: Cataler Corporation
10.2.2.Leading catalyst suppliers: Umicore
10.2.3.Leading catalyst suppliers: Johnson Matthey
10.2.4.Leading catalyst suppliers: Tanaka, Heraeus and BASF
10.2.5.Newly developed catalysts
11.1.Related Profiles

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Slides 221
Forecasts to 2034
Published Jan 2024
ISBN 9781835700150

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