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B Y A LLEN D E A RMOND AND L AUREN C UMMINGS. hydrogen fuel cells: the power of tomorrow. what is a fuel cell?. Generates electric power using a fuel and an oxidant Unlike a battery, chemicals are not stored in the fuel cell; they must be replenished Possible fuel sources: hydrogen,

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what is a fuel cell
what is a fuel cell?
  • Generates electric power using a fuel and an oxidant
  • Unlike a battery, chemicals are not stored in the fuel cell; they must be replenished
  • Possible fuel sources: hydrogen,

alcohols, hydrocarbons,


  • Possible oxidants: oxygen,

chlorine, chlorine dioxide

  • Refueling of an internal

combustion engine, efficient

and quiet like a battery

types of hydrogen fuel cells
types of hydrogen fuel cells
  • Polymer Electrolyte Membrane (PEM) Fuel Cells
  • Direct Methanol Fuel Cells
  • Alkaline Fuel Cells
  • Phosphoric Acid Fuel Cells
  • Molten Carbonate Fuel Cells
  • Solid Oxide Fuel Cells
  • Regenerative Fuel Cells
science of hydrogen fuel cells
science of hydrogen fuel cells
  • Anode (-) and Cathode (+) on each side of the fuel cell, divided by an electrolyte
  • Hydrogen gas is channeled through anode side; oxygen passes through cathode
  • Platinum catalyst oxidizes hydrogen atoms into H+ and electrons
  • Electrons pass along external circuit; conduct electricity before entering cathode
  • Electrolyte allows H+ to pass into the cathode
  • In cathode, catalyst combines H+ , O2- and electrons, forming H2O and heat
science of hydrogen fuel cells1
science of hydrogen fuel cells
  • Anode:2H2 => 4H+ + 4e-
  • Cathode: O2 + 4H+ + 4e- => 2H2O
  • Net Reaction:2H2 + O2 => 2H2O
  • Exact opposite of electrolysis
optimization of fuel cells
optimization of fuel cells
  • Catalyst: increases rate of reaction without being consumed in the process
  • Platinum is main catalyst used in PEM fuel cells
  • Platinum is expensive and highly sensitive to poisoning
  • New platinum/ruthenium catalysts being researched for use in hydrogen fuel cells
  • Reaction requires lower temperatures and high humidity and pressure
present day applications
present-day applications
  • Little-to-no pollution, doesn’t need to be recharged
  • 2500 fuel cell systems have been installed globally
  • Used to power landfills and water treatment plants
  • 50 fuel cell buses
  • Every major automotive manufacturer has designed a fuel cell-powered vehicle
  • Mercedes-Benz projects 40% efficiency in compact cars running on Hydrogen fuel cells
  • Hydrogen Fuel Initiative (2003)
present day applications2
present-day applications
  • Fuel cells require specific humidity, pressure, etc.
  • Catalysts are pricey and sensitive to poisoning
  • Difficult to produce hydrogen
  • Difficult to store optimum amounts of Hydrogen
  • If fuels other than hydrogen are used, some greenhouse gasses are emitted
  • Very few cars currently running on hydrogen
the future of fuel cells
the future of fuel cells
  • Used to power personal electronic devices: cell phones, iPods, laptops
  • Enough energy to run for days, or weeks (instead of hours)
  • Potentially power all cars, airplanes, ships, etc.
  • 60 million tons of carbon dioxide could be eliminated from yearly greenhouse gas production
  • Development of cheaper and more reliable catalysts
  • Higher demand = cheaper
the future of fuel cells1
the future of fuel cells
  • Economic crisis has greatly slowed technological advancements
  • Past predictions for 2010 seem unlikely
  • Hydrogen cannot be the only alternative fuel source to solve the energy crisis
  • Many more years of research before mass production will be possible
  • Hydrogen fuel cells are efficient, and clean
  • Also expensive, and require specific humidity, temperature, pressure
  • With more technological advancements, could be used in mass production for various applications
  • Not an instant fix for the energy crisis, but definitely a major component
works cited
works cited
  • Basic Elements: Fuel for the Future. Miramar High School. 3 March 2009. <http://library.thinkquest.org/04apr/00 215/energy/fuel_cells/fuel_cells.htm>
  • Fuel Cells. Princeton University. 3 March 2009. <http://www.princeton.edu/~ch m333/2002/spring/FuelCells/>
  • Fuel Cells. U.S. Department of Energy. 9 March 2009.

<http://www1.eere.energy.gov/hydrogenandfuelcells/fu elcells/fc_types.html>

  • Hydrogen.gov United States Government. 10 March 2009. <http://www.hydrogen.gov>.
  • Nice, Karim and Jonathan Strickland. “How Fuel Cells Work.” 18 September 2000. How Stuff Works.com. <http://www.howstuffworks.com/fuel-cell.htm 3 March 2009>.