DuPont has formed a fuel cell business unit to pursue growth in the emerging proton exchange membrane fuel cell market. The company intends to apply its integrated expertise in polymer, coatings and electrochemicals technology in what it estimates will be a $10 billion total market for fuel cells by the year 2010.

Last year DuPont opened a multi-million-dollar fuel cell technology centre in 2000 near its headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware. It also has partnerships with other organisations aimed at fuel cell development (eg with Innogy on their Regenesys technology).

Initially, DuPont will supply advanced materials, including DuPont Nafion perfluorinated membranes, which have been used in fuel cells for space travel for more than 35 years, and engineering polymers. Over the next few years, the company intends to provide PEM fuel cell stack components such as membrane electrode assemblies and conductive plates. The company is also active in the development of direct methanol fuel cell technology.