Fuel Cells

Fuel cells

Fuel cell

what is a fuel cell?

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

The operating principle of the fuel cell 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.

Fuel cell figure

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 

There are different types of fuel cells that use different types of electrolytes and electrodes.

Phosphoric Acid fuel cells (PAFC)

Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM)

Solid Oxide fuel cells (SOFC)

Alkaline fuel cells

Molten Carbonate fuel cells (MCFC) 

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.

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