Fuel cells systems are generally divided into categories by the general nature of their application, these categories are: portable, mobile and stationary.
Fuel cells are a ideal source of power where access to the electric grid is restricted or unavailable. Portable fuel cell systems offer great potential as portable power supplies and can be used for emergency or recreational use. Fuel cells are developed for portable electronic devices as a substitute of batteries or to be used to charge batteries. In these applications, the fuel cell would provide a much longer life than a battery (up to ten times longer), and "refuel" quickly with a liquid or gaseous fuel. Another advantages of fuel cells over batteries is that they provide a much higher power density and durability than standard batteries.
Typical power range: 5 W to 20 kW Typical technology: PEMFC, HT PEMFC, DMFC
Examples: - Non-motive APU (campervans, boats, lighing, camping) - Military applications (portable soldier-borne power, skid-mounted generators) - Portable products (battery chargers) - Small personal electronics (laptops, mobile phones, cameras..)
FCEV are used as a zero emission substitute for internal combustion engine vehicles. Hydrogen as a next generation fuel will bring clean fuel cell engines with greater efficency. Fuel cell electric vehicles are already in commercial use as forklifts and material handling vehicles.
Typical power: 1 kW to 100 kW Typical technology: PEMFC, DMFC
Examples: - Material handling vehicles and forklifts - Fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV) - Trucks and buses
Stationary fuel cells can be used in back-up applications where an uninterruptible power supply is critical, such as hospitals, computer data/banking centers and telecommunication transmitter towers. As a replacement to conventional combustion power plants, generators or batteries, fuel cells are able to generate electricity more efficiently than many of today`s technologies, and with less environmental impact (noise and emissions). Fuel cells provide decreased noise in stationary power applications, as opposed to diesel generators, thereby allowing them to be located inside buildings in dense urban locations.
Typical power range: 0.5 kW to 1 MW Typical technology: PEMFC, MCFC, PAFC, SOFC
Examples: - Large stationary combined heat and power (CHP) - Small stationary micro-CHP - Uninterupted power supplies (UPS)