CLEVELAND-The commercial market for fuel cells is currently limited, but it is expected to skyrocket over the next 10 years. A recent study conducted by the Freedonia Group Inc. predicts that fuel cell demand in the United States will surpass $1 billion by 2008. In 2013, it will jump to $4.6 billion.

A variety of viable markets for fuel cells is expected to develop over the next decade as technological advances and economies of scale, such as low-cost manufacturing, help drive costs down to competitive levels. Electric power generation is emerging as the first large-scale commercial market for fuel cells, and will account for more than half of all demand in 2008. However, the portable electronics market is expected to record the strongest advances over the next decade. Aerospace and motor vehicle applications will lag behind, but are predicted to grow dramatically between 2008 and 2013.

Proton exchange membrane fuel cells, which operate at low temperature and offer high energy densities, currently account for half of all demand and will maintain their dominant market position over the next 4 years. Solid oxide fuel cells will account for the second largest market segment in 2008, because they offer a high level of energy efficiency, especially in cogeneration applications. Demand for direct methanol fuel cells will grow at an above-average rate as system use grows in portable electronics and power generation applications.