Fuel Cells – a Strong Contender in Power Generation Arena

Published By : 20 Jun 2016 | Published By : QYRESEARCH

Fuel cells generate electricity by virtue of a chemical reaction, but without the combustion of a fuel like conventional cells. The core of a fuel cell is the conversion of hydrogen and oxygen into water, and alongside the process, electricity is created. A typical fuel cell is a device that converts electrochemical energy and produces water, heat, and electricity in the process.

In principle, fuel cells operate a lot like batteries, except they don’t need electrical recharging. Conventional batteries store all of their chemicals inside and convert the chemicals into electricity. As soon as the batteries run out of the chemicals, the battery either needs a refilling of the chemicals (in case of a rechargeable battery) or the battery simply stops generating electricity, as in when the battery dies.

On the other hand, a fuel cell continuously receives the chemicals from outside and it doesn’t ideally run out of the fuel that powers it. As such, fuel cells can keep generating power for an indefinite amount of time, as long as the fuel is being provided.

As fuel cells generate electricity with the help of a chemical reaction, rather than by combustion, they are not governed by the thermodynamic laws that govern a conventional power producing structure. Hence, fuel cells are known to be more efficient in extracting power from a fuel. The waste heat produced from some fuel cells can also be harnessed, which further helps in boosting the fuel efficiency of the system.

All these factors, summing up to create a cleaner and much more efficient power production system, make fuel cells the electricity generation technology to look forward for a cleaner and sustainable source of energy. The technology is well suited especially in the present day scenario when conventional sources of fuel are rapidly depleting and power production with the help of fossil fuels is becoming tasking for environment’s health.

So why can’t we just switch to fuel cells from conventional cells?
Theoretically, the basic working of a fuel cell is not very difficult to illustrate. However, the process of developing an inexpensive, reliable, and efficient is a very complicated process. Inventors and scientists have designed many models of different sizes of fuel cells in their quest for one with excellent efficiency. The technical details of all designs vary significantly. The choice of electrode and the requirement of fuel is largely constraining fuel cell developers.

It is thus hard to develop a model that can be utilized in mainstream applications and more research needs to be done to until commercial fuel cell models reach the market. Nonetheless, the high demand for such highly efficient cells, whenever they appear for large-scale marketing in the market, will make them a viable contender in the overall cells industry. 

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