What is fuel cell energy?
There are several kinds of fuel cells, and each operates a bit differently. All fuel cells generate electricity with no pollution. The only byproduct from the combination of hydrogen and oxygen, is water.
Fuel cells differ from batteries in that they produce electricity
whilst batteries only store electricity. Batteries can only
carry as much energy as limited by the internal energy storage capacity.
A fuel cell is an electrochemical energy conversion device. Fuel cells produce electricity from an external supply of fuel (salt in combination with water is used in the myFC fuel cell system) and oxidant (typically oxygen or air).
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A fuel cell is a device that generates electricity from a separated chemical reaction – usually the reaction between hydrogen and oxygen. In a proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell, like the myFC Powertrekk, hydrogen molecules enter a fuel cell at the anode where a chemical reaction strips them of their electrons. The hydrogen atoms are then positively charged hydrogen ions and can move through the electrolyte. The negatively charged electrons provide the current through the external circuit to do work. Oxygen enters the fuel cell at the cathode where it combines with electrons returning from the electrical circuit and hydrogen ions that have passed through the electrolyte from the anode to form water. There are various types of fuel cells and they all operate differently.
Every fuel cell has an electrolyte, which carries electrically charged ions from one electrode to the other. The fuel cell in myFC's products uses a PEM (Proton exchange membrane) as electrolyte. The fuel cell also uses a catalyst, which speeds up the reactions at the electrodes.
The electrolyte plays a key role for the operation of a fuel cell. It must permit only the appropriate ions to pass between the anode and cathode. If free electrons or reactants could travel through the electrolyte, they would disrupt the functionality of the fuel cell.
Hydrogen is the basic fuel for PEM fuel cells, but these fuel cells also require oxygen. One great advantage of fuel cells is that they generate electricity with no pollution – the hydrogen and oxygen used in generating electricity ultimately combine to form a harmless byproduct, namely water.
Fuel cells are scalable and typically put together in a stack in order to obtain wanted power performance for a specific system. Fuel cell systems range from small power units to high power system like cars or power plants. The technology has also been used in space stations.