What do houses, buses, laptops, forklifts and cars have in common? They can all be powered using fuel cells.
A fuel cell is an electrochemical energy conversion device that uses hydrogen or other fuels to produce electricity, water, and heat. It operates much like a battery but does not require electrical recharging. It can generate power almost indefinitely, as long as fuel is supplied.
A fuel cell can utilize a variety of fuels including hydrogen, natural gas, formira
THE CONVERSION PROCESS
The basic structure of a fuel cell consists of an electrolyte layer in contact with an anode and a cathode.
Typically, fuel is fed continuously to the anode and an oxidant (e.g., oxygen from air) is fed continuously to the cathode. The electrolyte layer acts as a one-way door, allowing either positive or negative ions to travel across, but not electrons, forcing electrons to travel through the external circuit (electric current). This resulting electric current can be used to power numerous applications requiring electricity.
Fuel cells can offer significant benefits over traditional energy technologies including:
- Superior energy efficiency (for example, fuel cells are 2-3 times as efficient as international combustion engines and for co-generation applications, fuel cells can achieve energy
Efficiencies of over 80 percent)
- Utilizes a variety of fuels including: hydrogen, methanol, natural gas, formic acid, ethanol Zero to near-zero emissions
- Versatile and scalable - can be applied in micro, portable, stationary, and transportation power applications
- Low maintenance costs, design freedoms and quiet operation