Engineering Materials

Helping you exceed the service life of fuel cell transport vehicles

Combining the best of the electric vehicle (EV) and internal combustion engine (ICE) worlds, proton-exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFC) offer emissions-free driving of an EV with the range and convenience of a traditional ICE. The sweet spot for this technology is the commercial transport, such as heavy-duty and medium-duty truck and bus sectors, boats and trains. As a manufacturer, you must ensure the PEMFC is reliable and doesn’t degrade in hot water or a mild acid environment to meet and exceed the long service life of these vehicles. There is a material solution that will ensure your PEMFC systems are efficient, reliable and safe.

One of the technology pillars for the electrification of vehicles is proton-exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFC). Combining the best of the electric vehicle (EV) and internal combustion engine (ICE) worlds, PEMFC offers emissions-free driving of an EV with the range and convenience of a traditional ICE. Although some automobile manufacturers are making cars with PEMFC technology, the sweet spot for the technology is in the heavy-duty and medium-duty truck and bus sectors, as well as other commercial transportation, including boats and trains.

Vehicles with PEMFC technology can be driven 400 to 500 miles on a few tanks of hydrogen and can be refueled within a few minutes. Other advantages include a low working temperature and short start-up time. Plus, PEMFCs can run on ambient air and enable safer and easier electrolyte management.

PEMFC technology is no stranger to the commercial vehicle market

It has been calculated that the average commercial truck’s carbon footprint to be 201,834 kilograms or 223 tons of carbon dioxide. According to the Hydrogen Council, hydrogen can decarbonize major sectors of the economy, including the transportation sector. Currently, this sector depends almost entirely on fossil fuels and creates more than 20% of all CO2 emissions. By replacing some of the Class 8 ( 46-ton trucks) on the roads with PEMFC trucks, emissions will decrease.

Some manufacturers of commercial vehicles have been utilizing PEMFC technology for some time now. In 2020, approximately 1,600 commercial vehicles worldwide were fuel cell EVs. According to Statista, this volume is forecast to grow by a compound annual growth rate of more than 90.4% percent until 2030, where the global fleet is forecast to reach some one million fuel cell electric trucks (Asia is projected to make up around 65% percent of that fleet).

Engineers are testing fuel cells in new capacities for other modes of transportation

PEMFC is also beneficial for other modes of transportation—we will see more boats and trains utilizing this technology. Now marine vessels are testing fuel cells in new capacities, and several ferries around the world are using hydrogen operations. There are also larger fuel cell models that are being prototyped and examined for container shipping vessels. Plus, recently the U.S. launched its first hydrogen fuel cell vessel.

Fuel cell trains are now operational in Germany, and other countries, such as Japan and South Korea, plan to use fuel cells for rail transportation. There is also the world’s first PEMFC hydrogen train—the two-car Alstom Coradia iLint. Each of the train cars contains a roof structure with compressed hydrogen cylinders totaling 94 kg, and a fuel cell module with a capacity of 198 kW. And just recently Canada announced the Canadian Pacific railroad is purchasing fuel cells to expand its hydrogen train program.

Soon we will see unmanned aerial and underwater vehicles, material handling machines at shipping ports, and warehouses and distribution centers utilizing PEMFC. There is no doubt fuel cells will become more common in the commercial transport sector.

How to ensure your PEMFC system is efficient, safe, and reliable


As a manufacturer, you must ensure the PEMFC is reliable and doesn’t degrade in water or a mild acid environment to meet and exceed the long service life of transport vehicles. Typically, the lifetime requirement for commercial transport vehicles is more than 20,000 hours.

Xytron PPS is your go-to material for PEMFC systems because it outperforms any other engineering material—it is the purest PPS material solution on the market today and offers the best in performance in fuel cells.

  • Lowest ion leaching of its kind, up to 120°C—leads to a longer service life
  • Best strength and toughness retention in hydrolytic environment
  • Best dimensional stability, fatigue and creep resistance
  • Best weld line strength before and after hydrolytic and heat aging

Ultimately the hydrolytic resistance of Xytron PPS increases durability and operation times of PEMFC commercial transport vehicles, thus decreases the possibility of the part failure. 

Xytron PPS is trusted by industry-leading manufacturers and Tier1s worldwide. Xytron PPS offers the lowest ion leaching and best strength and toughness retention in a hydrolytic environment to ensure fuel cell systems are efficient, have a long life and are safe and reliable. 

View related datasheet

 Learn more about solutions for PEMFC

Written by

Published on

10 March 2022



Yu Bin

Global Advanced Engineering Manager for E-Mobility

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