Fuel cells are devices that convert chemical energy derived from fuels to electrical energy. The chemical reaction involves utilizing oxygen or other oxidizing agent for continuous redox reactions. Alkaline fuel cell (AFC) employs an alkaline media as electrolyte. AFC or Bacon fuel cells are one of the most developed and cheaply available fuel cell technologies. These fuel cells have operational efficiencies more than 60%.
On the basis of electrolyte used AFCs are segmented into two variants namely static and flowing electrolytes. The immobilized or static electrolyte AFC are used in space crafts and space shuttles which uses asbestos separators saturated in potassium hydroxide. These fuel cells use platinum catalysts in order to achieve optimum specific and volumetric efficiencies. While, the flowing electrolyte AFCs utilize more matrix space allowing greater mobility to the electrolyte which may be exchanged from time to time. This fuel cell design though increases volumetric and specific efficiencies however, with increased operational costs. Alkaline fuel cells find applications in power generation for space crafts and military purposes. AFC is primarily used in three basic markets. As power backup alternative for communication towers, as secondary power for worksites, fuel cell powered vehicles such as boats, electric vehicles, fork lift vehicles and golf carts in automotive market. AFC utilises pure oxygen and hydrogen and produces potable water as a by-product which may be further used for other applications.
The growth of alkaline fuel cell market is primarily driven by its advantages such as better fuel efficiency, quick start even at extremely low temperatures, increased conductivity and cheaply available electrodes as compared to other fuel cells. The AFC market is restrained by the advancements in the polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cells owing to its ability to generate lower power densities. Additionally, the AFC electrodes are poisoned by carbon dioxide which impacts cell’s operation. This necessitates decontamination of oxygen and hydrogen utilized in the cell, hence, making it cost intensive. The AFC market has immense potential to grow in certain markets owing to improved efficiencies in niche applications. Increasing research and development activities coupled with expanding niche applications and preference of AFCs offer great opportunities for the market growth in the next few years. Some of the notable players in alkaline fuel cells market include Fuel Cell Energy, Toshiba, Bloom Energy, Ballard Power Systems Inc. and AFC Energy Plc.
This report by Grand View Research provides complete market estimates and forecasts up to 2020. The study also explains in detail various market dynamics including key drivers, restraints, growth opportunities and competitive landscape. Key questions answered by the report include:
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