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The global fuel cell market has been forecast to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.49% through to 2015, with the industry set to be driven by abundant energy sources and emerging applications, along with the increasing development of codes and standards
A fuel cell is a device that converts the chemical energy from a fuel into electricity through a chemical reaction with oxygen or another oxidizing agent. Hydrogen is the most common fuel, but hydrocarbons such as natural gas and alcohols like methanol are sometimes used. Fuel cells are different from batteries in that they require a constant source of fuel and oxygen to run, but they can produce electricity continually for as long as these inputs are supplied.
There are many types of fuel cells, but they all consist of an anode (negative side), a cathode (positive side) and an electrolyte that allows charges to move between the two sides of the fuel cell. Electrons are drawn from the anode to the cathode through an external circuit, producing direct current electricity.
In 2010, fuel cell market revenues exceeded a $750 million market value worldwide, although, as of 2010, no public company in the industry had yet become profitable. There were 140,000 fuel cell stacks shipped globally in 2010, up from 11 thousand shipments in 2007, and in 2010 worldwide fuel cell shipments had an annual growth rate of 115%.
Approximately 50% of fuel cell shipments in 2010 were stationary fuel cells, up from about a third in 2009, and the four dominant producers in the global fuel cell market remain the United States, Germany, Japan and South Korea.
A major trend in the global fuel cell market is the engagement of governmental organizations in analyzing and developing codes and standards for stationary fuel cell technologies. One such organisation is the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in the US, which developed standards and codes for the Global Fuel Cell market in September 2010.
These codes and standards are instigated to ensure that products and processes meet identical requirements that pertain to performance and safety parameters. The NREL has developed codes for fuel cells such as molten carbonate fuel cell (MCFC), phosphoric acid fuel cell (PAFC), solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC), and proton exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMF), which are the most demanded fuel cells in the market.
Key players currently dominating the global fuel cell market include UTC Power LLC, FuelCell Energy Inc., Ballard Power Systems Inc., and Hydrogenics Corp.
For more information on the global fuel cell market, see the latest research: Global Fuel Cell Market
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