Fundamentals, Materials, and Machine Learning of Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cell Technology
Polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cells are electrochemical devices that directly convert the chemical energy stored in fuel into electrical energy with a practical conversion efficiency as high as 65%. In the past years, significant progress has been made in PEM fuel cell commercialization. By 2019, there were over 19,000 fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV) and 340 hydrogen refueling stations (HRF) in the U.S. (~8,000 and 44, respectively), Japan (~3,600 and 112, respectively), South Korea (~5,000 and 34, respectively), Europe (~2,500 and 140, respectively), and China (~110 and 12, respectively). Japan, South Korea, and China plan to build approximately 3,000 HRF stations by 2030. In 2019, Hyundai Nexo and Toyota Mirai accounted for approximately 63% and 32% of the total sales, with a driving range of 380 and 312 miles and a mile per gallon (MPGe) of 65 and 67, respectively. Fundamentals of PEM fuel cells play a crucial role in the technological advancement to improve fuel cell performance/durability and reduce cost. Several key aspects for fuel cell design, operational control, and material development, such as durability, electrocatalyst materials, water and thermal management, dynamic operation, and cold start, are briefly explained in this work. Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) have received increasing attention in material/energy development. This review also discusses their applications and potential in the development of fundamental knowledge and correlations, material selection and improvement, cell design and optimization, system control, power management, and monitoring of operation health for PEM fuel cells, along with main physics in PEM fuel cells for physics-informed machine learning. The objective of this review is three fold: (1) to present the most recent status of PEM fuel cell applications in the portable, stationary, and transportation sectors; (2) to describe the important fundamentals for the further advancement of fuel cell technology in terms of design and control optimization, cost reduction, and durability improvement; and (3) to explain machine learning, physics-informed deep learning, and AI methods and describe their significant potentials in PEM fuel cell research and development (R&D).