We could soon be using fuel cells to produce electric power for all sorts of artifacts that we use every day. A fuel cell is a device that uses a fuel source, such as hydrogen, and an oxidant to generate electricity from an electrochemical process. Like the batteries found under car hoods or in flashlights, a fuel cell transforms chemical energy into electrical energy. Both fuel cells have the same basic structure, an electrolyte, and two electrodes, but different types of fuel cells exist, depending mainly on what type of electrolyte they use. A hydrogen fuel cell is a system that transforms hydrogen (fuel) chemical energy into electricity through an electrochemical reaction between it and oxygen (oxidizer). It is designed similarly to a traditional battery: cells made of anode and cathode content are divided by a chemical electrolyte.
Uses Of Hydrogen Fuel Cells:
Fuel cells may be driving our cars in the future, with hydrogen replacing the fossil fuel used today in most vehicles. Many vehicle manufacturers are actively studying and designing fuel cell technologies for transportation. The largest, most efficient fuel cells are stationary fuel cells. They are built to provide the hospitals, banks, airports, military bases, schools, and homes with a safe, secure source of on-site electricity. Fuel cells can power almost any portable device or battery-using computer. Unlike a conventional battery, which gradually goes dead, a fuel cell continues to generate energy as long as it supplies fuel and oxidant. The portable fuel cells could power laptop computers, mobile phones, video recorders, and hearing aids.
Fuel Cells Vs Old Batteries:
As told by coursework writing services, there are three major applications for fuel cells: storage, portable uses, and stationary installations. This is how hydrogen fuel cells can replace traditional batteries:
Energy Storage and Efficiency:
Hydrogen is a medium used for energy storage. Fuel, stored as hydrogen in the form of a gas or liquid, can never dissipate until it is used, making it an ideal application for emergency generators and other mission-critical applications. Compare that with other types of energy storage such as batteries and condensers which lose the energy stored in them over time and have to be recharged periodically even without use. Most internal combustion engines currently operate with an efficiency of around 25% and power plants with an efficiency of around 35%; but, when used in a hybrid heat and power system, a stationary fuel cell may have an efficiency of more than 80%.
Domestic Energy Supply:
Hydrogen can be generated using a wide range of resources available here in the United States. Renewable hydrogen can be created by waste, biomass, wind, solar, tidal, ocean, and geothermal. Production technology includes water electrolysis, natural gas steam reform, coal gasification, thermo-chemical processing, and biological gasification.
When hydrogen is used to power a fuel cell, water and heat are the only by-products-no pollutants or greenhouse gases are generated. Also when fossil fuels are used to power a fuel cell, as compared with traditional fossil-fueled generation systems, emissions are greatly reduced. Both voltage and power of the fuel cells are easy to scale. As with batteries, to generate the desired output voltage, cells can be ‘stacked’ in series. Unlike batteries much like IC engines, the power of fuel cells is easily increased with the use of a larger fuel tank. Scaling up a battery for increased efficiency is a much harder exercise in design. A liter of petrol (gasoline), however, contains much more energy than a liter of hydrogen – even though it is liquefied. A car may not be able to hold enough Hydrogen to give it the same range as an equivalent IC engine or even a battery-only vehicle, despite current technology.
Few Limitations of Fuel Cells:
Fuel cells have significant advantages over traditional combustion-based technology currently in use in many power plants and cars. They produce much smaller quantities of greenhouse gases and none of the air pollutants that cause smog and health problems. When using pure hydrogen as a fuel, the fuel cells only emit heat and water as a by-product. Fuel cells powered by hydrogen are also much more energy-efficient than conventional combustion technologies. Today, the cost is the biggest barrier for fuel cells. Even though rapid technological advancements are being made, fuel cells cannot compete economically with more conventional energy technologies yet. While the most abundant element in the universe is hydrogen, it is difficult to store and distribute. Pure hydrogen canisters are readily available from hydrogen suppliers but from now on at a nearby gas station you can’t just load up with hydrogen.