This article studies the different types of fuel cells and its applications.
|A fuel cell is a device that converts chemical energy into electricity by a chemical reaction of ions and an oxidizing agent. It is different from a battery in that the chemicals are already stored in a battery, whereas fuel cells get a continuous supply of fuel to run it. A battery runs out when the chemicals are finished reacting. A fuel cell can provide continuous supply of electricity as long as required.
Fuel cells are used for primary and backup power for commercial, industrial and residential buildings. They are also used in fuel cell vehicles, forklifts, automobiles, buses, boats, motorcycles and submarines.
There are different variety of fuel cells. But, they all contain an anode, a cathode, and an electrolyte that lets the passage of positively charged ions or protons to move between the sides of the fuel cell.
The different types of fuel cells are: Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cells, Phosphoric Acid Fuel Cells, Solid Acid Fuel Cells, and Alkaline Fuel Cells.
Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cells: In this, a proton conducting polymer membrane contains the electrolyte solution separating the anode and cathode. The hydrogen ions generates protons and electrons. These proton membranes combine with oxidants to generate electricity. Water is produced as a by product.
Phosphoric Acid Fuel Cells: In this, Phosphoric acid is the electrolyte that conducts the hydrogen ions from the anode to the cathode. These cells work in temperature's of 150 to 200 degrees celsius.
Solid Acid Fuel Cells: This use a solid material as its electrolyte. They have ordered molecular structures at low temperatures. At warmer temperatures, they undergo a transition to become superprotonic structures. They have lifetimes of thousands of hours.
Alkaline Fuel Cells: It consists of two porous carbon electrodes with a suitable catalyst such as Pt, Ag, CoO, etc. The electrolyte solution is of KOH or NaOH. H2 and O2 gas combine in the electrolyte to produce electricity. Water is produced as a by product.
The applications of fuel cells are in power, cogeneration, fuel cell electric vehicles, forklifts, motorcycles and bicycles, airplanes, boats, submarines, portable power systems, and others. The use of fuel cells will ultimately decide its future course of action. Automobiles are a hot category in which fuel cells are being used. Hydrogen is touted as the fuel being used. It can become a forerunner to the usage of Hydrogen as an automobile fuel.