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Fuel cell

Toyota FCHV fuel cell vehicle A fuel cell is an electrochemical device similar to a battery, but differing from the latter in that it is designed for continuous replenishment of the reactants consumed; i.e. it produces electricity from an external fuel supply of hydrogen and oxygen as opposed to the limited internal energy storage capacity of a battery. Additionally, the electrodes ithin a battery react and change as a battery is charged or discharged, hereas a fuel cell!s electrodes are catalytic and relatively stable. Typical reactants used in a fuel cell are hydrogen on the anode side and oxygen on the cathode side "a hydrogen cell#. Typically in fuel cells, reactants flo in and reaction products flo out, and continuous long$term operation is feasible virtually as long as these flo s are maintained. Fuel cells are often considered to be very attractive in modern applications for their high efficiency and ideally emission$free use, in contrast to currently more common fuels such as methane or natural gas that generate carbon dioxide. The only by$product of a fuel cell operating on pure hydrogen is ater vapor. There is concern, ho ever, about the energy$ consuming process of manufacturing the hydrogen. %anufacturing hydrogen re&uires a hydrogen carrier "typically fossil fuels, though ater is an alternative#, as ell as electricity, hich is idely generated by conventional fuels "fossil fuel or nuclear po er#. 'hile alternative energy sources li(e ind and solar po er could also be used, they are presently prohibitively expensive. )n this regard, hydrogen fuel technology itself cannot be said to reduce fossil fuel dependence.

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* +cience , -fficiency . -conomy / History 0 The fuel cell industry


+ee the tal( page for a discussion. Conse&uently. The protons are conducted through the membrane to the cathode.• • • 1 Advantages and disadvantages o 1. researchers have used other. oxygen molecules react ith the electrons " hich have travelled through the external circuit# and protons to form ater.. 8n the anode side. they can have very high efficiencies in converting chemical energy to electrical energy. li(e stand$alone po er plants based on discontinuous sources "solar. 8n the cathode catalyst. methanol and chemical hydrides. 4elated Technologies Science Fuel cells are not constrained by the maximum Carnot cycle efficiency as combustion engines are.# . Fuel cell design issues o 1./ Hydrogen vehicles and refuelling 2 +uggested applications 3 +ee also o 3. )n this example. )n the archetypal example of a hydrogen5oxygen proton$exchange membrane "or 6polymer electrolyte6# fuel cell "7-%FC#. -ach side has an electrode. )n addition to pure hydrogen. a proton$conducting polymer membrane separates the anode and cathode sides. the only aste product is ater vapor and5or li&uid ater. ind po er#. Fuel cell applications o 1. hydrogen$carrying fuels for fuel cells.. but in some applications.* Types of fuel cells o 3. including diesel. "The rest of the energy is converted into heat. Efficiency A fuel cell typically converts the chemical energy of its fuel into electricity ith an efficiency of about 0:. but the electrons are forced to travel in an external circuit "supplying po er# because the membrane is electrically insulating. hydrogen diffuses to the anode catalyst here it dissociates into protons and electrons..* -nvironmental effects o 1. typically carbon paper coated ith platinum catalyst. The round$trip efficiency "electricity to hydrogen and bac( to electricity# of such plants is bet een .: and /:. Fuel cells cannot store energy li(e a battery. they are combined ith electroly9ers and storage systems to form an energy storage system.. ..

have made the prospect of fuel cells in consumer applications such as automobiles more or less realistic.+.)f the fuel cell is used to po er a vehicle. )n *B0B. in the *B1:s to =acon!s patents being licensed by 7ratt and 'hitney from the >. if it is stored as a cryogenic li&uid "efficiency of Hydrogen Fuel Cell. "+ee Hydrogen car# The fuel cell industry . )n 6combined heat and po er6 applications. . The fuel$to$electricity conversion efficiency need not be very high "typically *0$.. Economy @% believes that fuel cell vehicles ill be available at mar(et prices around the end of this decade. in *B0B. a fuel cell is placed in a location here heat is also needed. typically around 3:. and reductions in the &uantity of expensive platinum catalyst re&uired. and *2. but it asn!t until *B0B that =ritish engineer Francis Thomas =acon successfully developed a 0 (' stationary fuel cell. because the heat is also being utili9ed. A s(etch as published in *3/.+..com5evs*B. hich as *::: >+< per installed (' electric po er output in . li(e the use of Iafion as the membrane electrolyte..3 and published in the Danuary *3. space program to supply electricity and drin(ing ater "hydrogen and oxygen being readily available from the spacecraft tan(s#. This system used potassium hydroxide as the electrolyte and compressed hydrogen and oxygen as the reactants. -xtremely expensive materials ere used and the fuel cells re&uired very pure hydrogen and oxygen. <iesel$+8FC$Hybrid and =attery -lectric Vehicles. then it is also important to ta(e losses due to production. fuel cells ere seen to be desirable due to the large amounts of fuel available "hydrogen H oxygen#. >lf =ossel. +ome heat is lost ith the exhaust gas ?ust li(e in a normal furnace.:.fuelcellcontrol. hich led.#.::. the first fuel cell as developed by 'elsh scientist +ir 'illiam @rove. Fuel cell vehicles running on compressed hydrogen may have a po er plant to heel efficiency of . "httpA55 . if the hydrogen is stored as high$pressure gas.. transportation and storage into account. History The principle of the fuel cell as discovered by + iss scientist Christian Friedrich +chCnbein in *3. -uropean Fuel Cell Forum#. =ased on this or(. so the combined heat and po er efficiency is still lo er than *::.B edition of the 67hilosophical %aga9ine6 E*F.. -arly fuel cells tended to re&uire inconveniently high operating temperatures that ere a problem in many applications.html#. here the concepts ere used in the >. Gater. a team led by Harry )hrig built a *0 (' fuel cell tractor for Allis$Chalmers that as demonstrated across the >+ at state fairs. =acon and his colleagues demonstrated a practical five$(ilo att unit capable of po ering a elding machine. Further technological advances in the *B3:s and *BB:s. Ho ever. The problem is the cost of the platinum catalyst.

and is developing fuel cells for automobiles. >TC 7o er demonstrated the first fuel cell capable of starting under free9ing conditions ith its proton exchange membrane "7-%# automotive fuel cell. %T)!s %obion line is being released in industrial.F.>nited Technologies ">TJ# as the first company to manufacture fuel cells. %T)!s %obionK cord$ free rechargeable po er pac( technology consists of a fuel cell hich runs on *::. >TJ!s >TC 7o er subsidiary E. "neat# %ethanol.::.:: E. @% apparently no teams ith <aimlerChrysler and =%' E0F. )n late .::0. consumer. buses. )n .. and cell phone to ers. having supplied the Apollo missions and currently the space shuttle.::/ Iissan and Honda started similar research programs. Ford %otor Company and <aimlerChrysler are ma?or investors in =allard. 7erth in 'estern Australia is also participating in the trial ith three fuel cell po ered buses no operating bet een 7erth and the port city of Fremantle.!s subsidiary. %echanical Technology )nc. Advantages and disadvantages Environmental effects / . >TC 7o er continues to be the sole supplier of fuel cells to IA+A for use in space vehicles. stationary fuel cell system for use as a co$generation po er plant in hospitals. ith only @eneral %otors and Toyota pursuing internal development of fuel cells for automotive use hich bro(e up in . )n the automotive fuel cell mar(et. >TC 7o er claims to be 6the global leader in the development and production of fuel cell technology6 for both transportation and on$site po er mar(ets. >TC 7o er continues to mar(et this fuel cell as the 7ureCell . most automobile companies ere customers of =allard. in . a . %T) %icroFuel Cells debuted its first <irect %ethanol Fuel Cell "<%FC#E1F for commercial use.F as the first company to manufacture and commerciali9e a large. and large office buildings. The trial is to be extended to other Australian cities over the next three years. universities.:: (' system.::/. and military mar(ets as a lo $cost replacement for lithium$ion batteries. )n the *B1:s the company provided IA+A ith fuel cells to generate electricity for the Apollo missions. A fuel cell po ered vehicle designed by @eneral %otors =allard 7o er +ystems is a ma?or developer and manufacturer of the 7-% fuel cells and claims to lead the orld in automotive fuel cell technology. Note: >TC 7o er also uses the >TC Fuel Cells E/F name hen referring to fuel cell products.

efficiency. it is possible to separate the gases and dispose of them properly. gasoline is not a primary energy source. and not distributed on every single vehicle or utility. E2F 8ther types of fuel cells do not face these problems. usually re&uiring at least 0: . hydrogen is not a primary source of energyA it is only an energy storage medium. more electricity than the energy stored in the produced hydrogen. This is not the case. Fuel cell design issues To ma(e fuel cells economically competitive. because crude oil has to be treated in a refinery to obtain gasoline. As an alternative to electrolysis.#. their findings remain controversial. and their assumptions regarding the amount of hydrogen lea(ed have been disputed by industry officials. since the production is concentrated in one facility. Ho ever. small amounts of hydrogen lea(ing from storage containers and pipelines ill have a detrimental impact on the -arth!s o9one layer. or ith other hydrocarbons to a varying degree of efficiency. Ho ever. but. Ho ever. in?ection pro?ect has been started by Ior egian company +tatoil in the Iorth +ea. furthermore. hydrogen can be generated from methane "the primary component of natural gas# ith approximately 3:. another environmental problem faced by all types of hydrogen fuel cells has been pointed out in a paper published in +cience maga9ine by a group of Caltech scientists. for example by in?ecting them in an oil or gas reservoir. )f electrolysis "a process that uses electricity# is used to create hydrogen using energy from po er plants. and must be manufactured using energy from other sources. The problem is that coal is a relatively dirty energy source. roughly 0:. as it does in automobile applications "the electrolysis of ater is itself a rather inefficient process. 'ater management remains a (ey problem in 7roton -xchange %embrane Fuel Cells or "7-%FCs# here the membrame must be hydrated. biological fuel cells ta(e glucose and methanol from food scraps and convert it into hydrogen and food for the bacteria. the problem of pollution is still present at po er plants. ho ever. re&uiring 0 . They note that if hydrogen fuel cell usage becomes idespread enough to replace gasoline internal$combustion engines. The hydrocarbon$conversion method releases greenhouse gases. even the most efficient internal$ combustion engines are not very efficient in absolute terms. this is especially true if the hydrogen has to be compressed to high pressures or li&uified. A C8. Finally.A common misconception among the public is that elemental hydrogen is a source of energy. of all electricity produced in the >nited +tates comes from coal. there are many practical problems to be overcome as ell. The physical la s relating to the conservation of energy unfortunately create a situation here the energy needed to create the fuel in the first place may reduce the ultimate energy efficiency of the system to belo that of the most efficient gasoline internal$ combustion engines. at the +leipner field. it is essentially creating hydrogen fuel from coal. Though the fuel cell itself ill only emit heat and ater as aste. For example.

electric L remainder as thermal#. creating a gas 6short circuit6 here hydrogen and oxygen combine directly. The largest manufacturer of 7AFC fuel cells is >TC 7o er. but the coldest do present a problem. remote eather stations. a division of >nited Technologies Corporation. A near$term application is combined heat and po er "CH7# for office buildings and factories. hile a much cheaper lead$acid battery might return about B: percent. )f the ater is evaporated to slo ly. and in certain military applications. )f ater is evaporated too &uic(ly. )n particular. preventing the reactants from reaching the catalyst and stopping the reaction. such as spacecraft. and +olid$oxide fuel cell prototypes exist. and because their efficiency decreases ith increasing po er density. "/0$0:. light eight and has no ma?or moving parts. For instance. %ethods to dispose of the excess ater are being developed by fuel cell companies. they are usually not considered for applications ith high load variations. large par(s. 1 . but temperatures belo $. reactant and product levels at various cells. of the orld!s car par( is legally sub?ect to the re&uirement of being able to start from sub$9ero temperatures. they are not suited for energy storage systems in small and medium scale. =ecause fuel cells have a high cost per (ilo att. rural locations.ater to be evaporated at precisely the same rate that it is produced. resistance across it increases. and remains the challenge. many problems are amplified. and at the same time produce hot air and ater from the aste heat.: degrees Celsius still prohibit the fuel cell stac( from starting. cars must be re&uired to start in any eather conditions a person can reasonably expect to encounterA about 3:. the electrodes ill flood. 7utting all of these factors together hasn!t been accomplished decisively yet. <urability and lifetime of the cells can be serious issues for some cells. Fuel cells have no difficulty operating in the hottest locations. A fuel cell system running on hydrogen can be compact. )n vehicle usage. %olten$carbonate fuel cells have also been installed in these applications. Fuel cell applications Fuel cells are very useful as po er sources in remote locations. the membrane dries. 7hosphoric$acid fuel cells "7AFC# comprise the largest segment of existing CH7 products orld ide and can provide combined efficiencies close to 3:. At the same time many other variables must be ?uggled. Honda!s FCJ as the first fuel cell po ered vehicle to do so. generating heat that ill damage the fuel cell. lo po er densities for others. This type of system generates constant electric po er "selling excess po er bac( to the grid hen it is not consumed#. and eventually it ill crac(. %aterials must be chosen to do various tas(s hich none fill completely. An electroly9er and fuel cell ould return less than 0: percent of the input energy "this is (no n as round-trip efficiency#. including temperature throughout the cell " hich changes and can sometimes destroy a cell through thermal loading#.

Currently.. Their venture is called the Triton. in order to allo any lea(ed hydrogen to escape to the atmosphere. ho ever. since fuel cell5electroly9er systems do not store fuel. 2 . among many others. but fuel cells only need a larger storage unit "typically cheaper than an electrochemical device#. batteries ould have to be largely oversi9ed to meet the storage demand. There are. they can be successfully applied in large$scale energy storage. )n this case. but rather rely on external storage units. Hydrogen vehicles and refuelling The first hydrogen refuelling station as opened in 4ey(?avM(. There are numerous prototype or production cars and buses based on fuel cell technology being researched or manufactured. such as a fleet of Thor buses ith >TC 7o er fuel cells in California.:*: according to the industry. )celand on April . ith an electrolysing unit "produced by Iors( Hydro#. operated by +unGine Transit Agency E3F. a practical commercial automobile is not expected until at least . Ho ever. The station produces the hydrogen it needs by itself. The use of fuel cells for cogeneration of electricity and hot ater in households is a potential long$term application. +odium boro hydride "Ia=H/# a chemical compound may hold future promise due to the ease at hich hydrogen can be stored under normal atmospheric pressures in automobiles that have fuel cells. 4esearch is ongoing at companies li(e =%'. rural areas being one example. ith various pilot programs launched in . This station serves three buses built by <aimlerChrysler that are in service in the public transport net of 4ey(?avM(. and does not need refillingA all that enters is electricity and ater. +hell is also a partner in the pro?ect. fuel cell$ po ered buses currently active or in production. a team of college students called -nergy$Nuest is planning to ta(e a hydrogen fuel cell po ered boat around the orld "as ell as other pro?ects using efficient or rene able fuels#. The station has no roof. and Iissan. Hyundai.::0 across the industry.::.Ho ever.

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