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The global protonic ceramic fuel cell market size was valued at USD 46.5 million in 2021. The market is projected to grow from USD 58.7 million in 2022 to USD 396.6 million by 2029, exhibiting a CAGR of 31.4% during the forecast period. Based on our analysis, the global market exhibited an average growth of 35.1% in 2020 as compared to 2019.
Protonic Ceramic Fuel Cell (PCFC) is a relatively new technology in the fuel cell industry and acts as one of the promising electrochemical devices for efficient and clean conversion of hydrogen and low hydrocarbons into electrical energy. Protonic ceramic fuel cell is based on fuel cell technologies that are based on ceramic and electrolytic material. The Fuel Cells (FC) generally operate at a temperature range of 500⁰C to 800⁰C, giving them a proffer advantage for component compatibility. Simultaneously, the protonic ceramic based fuel cell can also be used in reversible operation to store renewable energy by means of water electrolysis to generate hydrogen and then convert it into electricity. The protonic ceramic FC is generally used for two significant applications, off-grid power, which is used for power applications across remote locations and in vehicles for transport purposes.
Project Funding Amid COVID-19 Pandemic has Driven Market Growth
In 2020, the global economy was significantly affected due to the coronavirus pandemic outbreak and unprecedented turbulence in the global energy market owing to a significant drop in mobility, shutting down industries, reduced road transportation, and other disruptions. Besides, travel restrictions and lockdown rules also resulted in skilled labor's unavailability. However, despite the unprecedented crisis, long-term climate and environmental challenges remain primary threats to our planet and humanity, resulting in continued development of various hydrogen production technologies. For example, as per the International Energy Agency reports, in 2020, the global market saw a significant increase by 37% in the deployment of total fuel cell vehicles compared to 2019.
In addition, subsequent protonic ceramic based fuel cell projects were also funded by government entities for various applications focusing on advancing the technology. For example, in 2020, the U.S. Department of Energy funded a USD 200,000 thousand protonic ceramic fuel cell project for FuelCell Energy. The project mainly focuses on developing protonic ceramic membranes with unprecedented electrochemical efficiency, majorly for electrochemical application.
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Increasing Research & Development Activities to Improve Product Capability to Drive Market Growth
Carbon emission is contributing to climate change, reflecting severe consequences for humans and the environment. Burning fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases leading to many problems such as ocean acidification, global warming, and other severe issues. This has resulted in various government entities and organizations across the globe to develop efficient energy technologies to diminish carbon footprints and curb other harmful emissions, further enhancing the market landscape.
One of the recent developments in this context occurred on April 22, 2022, when CoorsTek, one of the leading global engineered ceramics manufacturers, collaborated with international research associates. The company succeeded in applying the technology of ceramic membrane to develop a robust hydrogen generator, which produces hydrogen from electricity and fuels with almost no energy loss.
The company's recent development has reflected on a higher efficiency of protonic membranes to produce hydrogen using fuels, such as ammonia, natural gas, and biogas, compared to other fuel types, further acting as one of the significant factors driving the growth for the market.
Better Efficiency and Decreasing Dependency on Fossil Fuels to Drive Market Growth
Society's reliance on burning fossil fuels for its energy needs has created an urgent and overriding challenge of halting the climate change promoted by the transition to a carbon neutral and sustainable energy economy. Hydrogen energy supply is expected to play an important role as an energy carrier in a sustainable and clean future economy, in which its chemical energy is converted into electrical energy in fuel cells.
In the fuel cell industry, protonic ceramic fuel cells have the potential and are more efficient to upgrade from conventional fuel cells such as Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFC). This is predominantly due to their capacity to operate efficiently at low and intermediate temperatures and their quality of nonfuel dilution at the anode during operation. Better efficiency and inclination toward adopting clean energy is expected to surge the demand for protonic ceramic based fuel cells during the forecast period.
Major companies' significant investments and ongoing initiatives helped substantially increase the market size. For instance, Adaptive Energy (AE) is Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) developer and manufacturer that focuses on providing reliable, robust, and cost-effective SOFC products in the 100-350W power output range. The company has proposed leveraging military-grade tubular ceramic fuel cell technology with recent protonic ceramic fuel cells materials and manufacturing advances from the Colorado School of Mines. This is to create a portable, propane-powered, intermediate-temperature, and 300We+ fuel-cell stack for remote-power or off-grid applications.
Flexibility of Protonic Ceramic Fuel Cell to Drive the Market Growth
PCFCs can generate clean and efficient energy to power various applications. Fuel cells use the chemical energy of hydrogen or other fuels to generate electricity cleanly and efficiently, driving their acceptance as a clean energy source. PCFCs generally operate in an intermediate temperature range between 400–800⁰C, giving them the advantage of higher mobility and lower activation energy of protons. The operation at the intermediate level results in fuel flexibility. Further, their operation on uncomplicated hydrocarbons is often preferred as the access to their widespread use with hydrogen as fuel.
Furthermore, the PCs can also be used in different fuel sources, which acts as one of the critical parameters for the improved performance of protonic ceramic based fuel cell.
For example, in 2018, the Colorado School of Mines demonstrated a relatively new class of fuel cell that has long-term durability and flexibility needed to become a viable commercial alternative to other existing fuel cell technologies. Researchers tested 11 different fuels, hydrogen, methane, CNG (with and without hydrogen sulfide), propane, n-butane, i-butane, isooctane, methanol, ethanol, and ammonia, which demonstrated an excellent performance and exceptional durability across fuel types over thousands of operating hours. This has resulted in critical PCFCs with high durability and flexibility, which will likely increase the adoption of protonic ceramic based fuel cells in off-grid locations across remote locations, emergency power generators in natural disasters, and more.
High Initial Investment Costs and Availability of Other Fuel Cell Systems to Hamper Market Growth
Other fuel cell types are available such as proton membrane fuel cell, phosphoric acid fuel cell, direct methanol fuel cell, and others. These fuel cells are more commercially available and have wide acceptance in several applications than protonic ceramic fuel cells, which is one of the main factors hampering the protonic ceramic fuel cell market growth.
For example, the Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell (PEMFC) is preferred for stationary and transportation applications as it can operate at low temperatures and eliminate electrode corrosion. There is no liquid electrolyte that has high efficiency and has fast start-up times.
In addition, there is increasing demand for other electric vehicles, including battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. They have various advantages, such as higher efficiency, no polluting by-products, cost efficiency, and energy security, which are expected to reduce fuel cell acceptance and hamper product demand.
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Off-grid Power to Lead Application Segment Owing to Increasing Distribution and Utility Results
Based on application, the global protonic ceramic fuel cell market is segmented into transportation and off-grid power.
Protonic ceramic based fuel cells are used for grid applications, power distribution, and utility supply as a replacement for fossil fuels with zero carbon emissions, which resulted in the domination of the off-grid power segment in the market.
Furthermore, the demand for PCFCs in the transportation sector is likely to be stimulated as an alternative transportation system that overcomes the challenges of inefficiencies in fuel transport and storage, with an increase in advancement/development of the protonic ceramic based fuel cell from renewable resources to increase fuel diversity in the transportation sector cost-effectively and efficiently.
North America Protonic Ceramic Fuel Cell Market Size, 2021 (USD Million)
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North America Hold Dominating Share of Market Owing to Extensive Project Development
Based on region, the market is studied across North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, and the rest of the world.
North America is anticipated to lead the market, owing to the most extensive initiation and development of PCFC projects. Various government entities and organizations have funded projects to enhance the PCFC technology to meet clean energy needs. The market for North America was valued at USD 35.84 million in 2021 and is likely to reach USD 331.07 million by 2029 growing at a CAGR of 32.7% over the forecast period.
Europe is also expected to hold a significant share of the market owing to clean power generation technologies, robust investments in low carbon distributed generation, and greenhouse gas reduction targets by the countries operating across the region. European Commission, a unique economic and political union between 27 European countries, has been working on projects for developing protonic ceramic based fuel cells for better performance characteristics that is anticipated to improve the market landscape across the region.
In Asia Pacific, Japan exhibits a significant readiness to place practical-sized PCFCs for mass production. The National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) projects are likely to add to the PCFC market size across the region.
Several other countries, such as Brazil, Saudi Arabia, and others, have shown significant interest in testing and deploying the PCFC for off-grid and transportation applications in the coming years. The countries are also investing substantially to develop hydrogen infrastructure and support the transition in general mobility.
The rest of world includes the market study in countries of the Middle East & Africa and Latin America.
Bosch, SOLIDPower, and Nexceris are Among the Leading Players in the Market Investing in Product Development and Enhancement
The global market observes vital players operating at the national, regional, and international levels. They have been focusing on manufacturing different components, materials, and final PCFC for numerous applications. SOLIDPower is expected to generate significant protonic ceramic fuel cell market share due to its established presence in the SOFC industry and propriety technological edge over the other competitors. The company has also exhibited vital interests in collaboration initiatives and attained various scale projects for PCFC under its expertise. Furthermore, competitors, such as Adaptive Energy, are also striving to expand their horizons with innovative breakthroughs and new orders for PCFC deployment. Moreover, Bosch is investing in its fuel cell technologies for product enhancement and development to make a scalable production. Other market participants, including STC Superior and Nexceris are significantly developing and providing protonic ceramic based fuel cell components and materials.
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The research report presents a comprehensive industry assessment by offering valuable insights, facts, industry-related information, and historical data. Several methodologies and approaches are adopted to make meaningful assumptions and views to formulate the research report. Furthermore, the report covers a detailed analysis of market segments, including applications and regions, helping our readers get a comprehensive global industry overview.
Value (USD Million)
By Application and Region
Fortune Business Insights study shows that the global market was USD 46.5 million in 2021.
The global market is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 31.4% in the forecast period.
The market size of North America was valued at USD 35.84 million in 2021 and is expected to reach USD 331.07 million in 2029.
The off-grid power segment holds the dominating share in the global market.
The global market is expected to reach USD 396.6 million by 2029.
The key market drivers are better efficiency, decreasing fossil fuel dependency, and flexible protonic ceramic fuel cells.
The top players in the market are Solid Power, Ceramic Powder Technology AS, Bosch, Nexceris, and STC Superior Technical Ceramics.
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