Fuel Cell Essay

4064 WordsJun 27, 201317 Pages
INTRODUCTION A Fuel Cell is an electrochemical device that converts the chemical energy from a fuel into electricity through a chemical reaction with oxygen or another oxidizing agent. Hydrogen is the most common fuel, but hydrocarbons such as natural gas and alcohols like methanol are sometimes used. Fuel cells are different from batteries in that they require a constant source of fuel and oxygen to run, but they can produce electricity continually for as long as these inputs are supplied. There are many types of fuel cells, but they all consist of an anode (negative side), a cathode (positive side) and an electrolyte that allows charges to move between the two sides of the fuel cell. Electrons are drawn from the anode to the cathode through an external circuit, producing direct current electricity. As the main difference among fuel cell types is the electrolyte, fuel cells are classified by the type of electrolyte they use. Fuel cells come in a variety of sizes. Individual fuel cells produce relatively small electrical potentials, about 0.7 volts, so cells are "stacked", or placed in series, to increase the voltage and meet an application's requirements. In addition to electricity, fuel cells produce water, heat and, depending on the fuel source, very small amounts of nitrogen dioxide and other emissions. The energy efficiency of a fuel cell is generally between 40–60%, or up to 85% efficient if waste heat is captured for use. The fuel cell market is also growing at a healthy pace and according to Pike Research; the stationary fuel cell market is predicted to reach 50 GW by 2020. Fuel cell technology is based upon the simple combustion reaction given as 2H2 + O2 2H2O Demonstration model of a direct-methanol fuel cell. The actual fuel cell stack is the layered cube shape in the center of the image Scheme of a Proton Conducting Fuel Cell

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