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What do you know about Fuel Cells ?

Fuel cells

What is a fuel cell?

A fuel cell is a device that generates electricity by a chemical reaction

The operating principle of the fuel cells is based on the oxidation of a fuel (e.g. hydrogen) and the reduction of a comburant (e.g. oxygen) leading to the simultaneous production of water, electrical energy (W) and heat (Q). This consists of two electrodes one emitting electron( anode) and the other receiving electrons (cathode), separated by an electrolyte allowing the passage of ions. A membrane prevents the contact of the anode and cathode reagents.

oxidation of the oxygen on the Anode: H2 → 2H+ + 2e-

reduction of the oxygen on Cathode:  1⁄2O2 + 2H+ +2e- → H2O

Global reaction:  H2 + 1/2 O2 → H2O

Different types of fuel cells 

Each type of fuel cell is characterized by the electrolyte adopted. If we except the batteries “AFC” (with potash), four categories are currently envisaged for building applications, applications designated by their English acronym. It’s about :
. so-called PEMFC (or PEFC) batteries,
. so-called MCFC batteries,
. SOFC batteries,
. so-called PAFC batteries.
These different categories are characterized by the following electrolytes.

  1. PEMFC” (or “PEFC”) batteries, “proton exchange membrane fuel cells”, have an electrolyte
    which is a polymer membrane.
  2. MCFC” batteries, “molten carbonate fuel cells”, contain molten lithium carbonate aselectrolyte.
  3. SOFC” batteries, “solid oxide fuel cells”, have a ceramic (normally zirconium oxide) as an electrolyte.
  4. PAFC” batteries, “phosphoric acid fuel cells”, have an electrolyte based on phosphoric acid.
phosphoric acid fuel cells

5.”AFC” Alkaline fuel cells

Read also ; cars

Fuel cells applications

  1. Power Generation for futurecars (Transportations)

Cold Weather Starting

Insulating the fuel cell system and its balance of plant components properly can keep the system from freezing for 8–24 hours or longer. If no heat is delivered to the system by running, battery discharge, or fuel burning, the system will eventually freeze and will need to be restarted. [1]

In terms of environmental compatibility, consumer profit, maintenance costs, and efficiency, fuel cell technology has the potential to outperform today’s motive power techniques.

Advantages & disadvantage of Fuel cells 

  • Advantage
  1. air protection.
  2. Energy-saving.
  3. limitation of the noise nuisance: no noise affected by the process of the electrochemical.
  4. fuel flexibility.
  5. quick response to the charge and autonomy.
  6. limited maintenance
  7. these are batteries = no charging contrary to the batteries.
  • Disadvantage
  1. New technology.
  2. Unavailability of hydrogen.
  3. H2 storage difficulties and risk of explosion.
  4. Forced by temperatures.
  5. Lack of infrastructure.

The major drawback

The only significant obstacle remaining that of the cost, it is possible to hope that current research will help mitigate, if not to eliminate this defect, but the forecasts are not conclusive, and there are still many uncertainties (see opposite forecasts for the period 2015-2020).

[1].Sience direct
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