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[pib] Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cells (PEMFC)


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cells (PEMFC)

Mains level: Read the attached story

Scientists at International Advanced Research for Powder Metallurgy & New Materials (ARCI), Hyderabad have developed Polymer Electrolyte Membrane fuel cells (PEMFC).

Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cells

  • Proton-exchange membrane fuel cells, also known as polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cells (PEMFC) are a type of fuel cell being developed mainly for transport applications, as well as for stationary fuel-cell applications and portable fuel-cell applications.
  • Their distinguishing features include lower temperature/pressure ranges (50 to 100 °C) and a special proton-conducting polymer electrolyte membrane.
  • PEMFCs generate electricity and operate on the opposite principle to PEM electrolysis, which consumes electricity.
  • They are a leading candidate to replace the aging alkaline fuel-cell technology, which was used in the Space Shuttle.



  • The PEMFC uses a water-based, acidic polymer membrane as its electrolyte, with platinum-based electrodes.
  • The protons pass through the membrane to the cathode side of the cell while the electrons travel in an external circuit, generating the electrical output of the cell.

Applications in disaster management

  • Emergency Operation Centres (EOC) backed with 10 kW systems is being planned as a natural disaster management measure.
  • Tamil Nadu is generally affected by five to six cyclones every year, of which two to three are severe and is followed by frequent power cuts.
  • ARCI is now planning to set up a PEMFC system for Tamil Nadu to operate the systems like early warning systems, VHF set, IP phone, BSNL Ethernet and office equipment like scanner, computers, printers, phone, FAX and normal requirements like lighting and fan.

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