Fuel Cell Benefits: 5 Facts You Should Know

Global brands have relied on Plug’s hydrogen fuel cells for years. Here’s why.

zero emission power

1. Zero-Emission Power

Hydrogen fuel cells (HFCs) produce no harmful emissions, eliminating the costs associated with handling and storing toxic materials like battery acid or diesel fuel. In fact, when fueled with pure hydrogen, the only by-products are heat and water, making our products a zero-emission, sustainable power source. Hydrogen fuel cells are part of many well-planned corporate sustainability programs.

Read Fact Sheet: FCHEA Emissions Fact Sheet

robust reliability

2. Robust Reliability

Hydrogen fuel cell technology has proven itself against tough conditions, including cold environments as low as -40 degrees F/C, weather environments like hurricanes, deserts, and winter storms, and even the hardworking business environments of material handling warehouses.

Read post: Learn How HFCs Helped During Hurricane Michael

Read Case Study: GenDrive for Logistics Facilities

improved efficiency

3. Improved Efficiency

Hydrogen fuel cells are generally between 40% to 60% energy efficient, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. This range compares to the typical internal combustion engine of a car, which is about 25% energy efficient. Hydrogen fuel cell efficiency is put to work to improve warehouse productivity by up to 15% using fuel cell forklifts to extend the mileage range for electric vehicles.


4. Scalable

The advantages of using a modular product are profound: Greater reliability and easier serviceability. But most important of the fuel cell benefits may be scalability – and the savings provided when purchasing and using fuel cells. These products may be engineered precisely to meet a variety of customer power needs – whether for on-road electric vehicles, material handling fleets, or stationary power. Paying only for what you need just makes sense.

lower operational cost

5. Lower Operational Costs

Compared to batteries and internal combustion generators, fuel cells save money. They eliminate the need to change, charge, and manage batteries, subsequently reducing labor, time, space, and peak power demands. The units run longer than lead-acid batteries and can be fueled in as little as three minutes, substantially reducing vehicle and personnel downtime. Additionally, simple maintenance and fewer site visits mean up to 84% lower operational costs when compared to combustion generators for stationary power. Robust reliability eliminates the need for quarterly site maintenance visits, keeping site personnel focused on their critical tasks.

What is a Fuel Cell?

A hydrogen fuel cell is an electrochemical power generator that combines hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity, with water and heat as by-products. Simply put, hydrogen fuel cells form energy that can be used to power anything from commercial vehicles to drones.

Hydrogen fuel cell technology offers the advantages of a clean and reliable alternative energy source to customers in a growing number of applications – electric vehicles, including forklifts, delivery vans, drones, and cars – primary and backup power for a variety of commercial, industrial, and residential buildings; and more futuristic-sounding applications like air taxis.


National and international organizations, like the U.S. Department of Energy, Fuel Cell & Hydrogen Energy Association (FCHEA) and the Hydrogen Council work with the fuel cell industry to promote fuel cell advantages across a growing number of commercial applications.

Visit: FCHEA | DOE | Hydrogen Council

Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology Explained

A fuel cell is composed of three main components: an anode, a cathode, and an electrolyte membrane. The magic of the PEM fuel cell is its proton exchange membrane, which looks like a piece of construction paper, and works by passing hydrogen through the anode side and oxygen through the cathode side. At the anode side, the hydrogen molecules are split into electrons and protons. The protons pass through the electrolyte membrane, while the electrons are forced through a circuit, generating an electric current and excess heat. At the cathode side, the protons, electrons, and oxygen combine to product water molecules.