Hydrogen Fuel Cells Maddie Droher
What is a fuel cell? • An energy conversion device set to replace combustion engines and additional batteries in a number of applications. • A fuel cell converts the chemical energy contained in fuels, into electricity, with heat and water generated as by-products. • Unlike engines, where fuels are burnt to convert chemical energy into kinetic energy, fuel cells convert fuels directly into electricity • This conversion occurs through an electrochemical process that does not require combustion. • Fuel cells are more efficient at creating electricity than engines which must take an additional step to convert the kinetic energy into electrical energy.
How does a fuel cell work? • A fuel cell contains two electrodes, an anode and a cathode, separated by a membrane. • Oxygen passes over one electrode and hydrogen over the other. The hydrogen reacts to a catalyst on the electrode anode that converts the hydrogen gas into negatively charged electrons and positively charged ions. • The electrons flow out of the cell and are used as electrical energy. The hydrogen ions move through the electrolyte membrane to the cathode electrode where they combine with oxygen and the electrons to produce water. *A fuel cell combines hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity, heat, and water- It’s similar to a battery, except fuel cells never run out. http://0.tqn.com/d/inventors/1/0/R/5/fuelcell.gif
Fuel Cell Capability • Capable of powering any portable device or application that usually uses batteries (hand held devices, generators, etc) • Able to power transportation (trucks, buses, marine vessels, most vehicles) • Promising technology for use as a source of heat and electricity for buildings, and as an electrical power source for electric motors driving vehicles. • Future potential as an an energy carrier, which moves and delivers energy in a usable form to consumers.
Advantages • Will produce electricity as long as hydrogen is supplied. • Hydrogen can replace the imported petroleum humans use in trucks and cars. • Hydrogen can be made from plentiful and various domestic energy resources (solar, wind, biomass) • Reduces use and dependence on oil (decreases greenhouse gas emissions and main pollutants) • High in energy, and is an engine that burns pure hydrogen which produces minimal pollution
Disadvantages • Currently expensive- replacing the current oil-based infrastructure with hydrogen could cause billions of dollars. • Storage tends to be a problem because a hydrogen tank would currently be too large for a car. • Hydrogen is a very flammable gas • Safety issues- liquid hydrogen has the ability to freeze air.
Works Cited • http://www.alternative-energy-news.info/technology/hydrogen-fuel/ • http://www.hydrogen.energy.gov/pdfs/doe_h2_fuelcell_factsheet.pdf • http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/tech/hydrogen • http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/tech/hydrogen