Using Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology In Our Car
Hydrogen fuel cells have been a hot topic, especially since the increasing gas prices have made consumers more urgent than ever to start the search for more fuel-efficient energy sources. But the topic isn’t a new one. Five years ago, President Bush announced funding for the Hydrogen Fuel Initiative and since then the government has spent more than $1 billion working on this hydrogen fuel cell technology.
While we may have heard the term, most of us don’t have a good idea of what hydrogen fuel cell technology is or what it might mean for us in the future.
Understanding Hydrogen Fuel Cells
Before we can understand how h2 fuel cells work, we need to understand the four parts they contain. First, you have the anode and the cathode. The anode is negatively charged so that it attracts electrons and keeps them moving. The cathode, on the other hand, is positively charged and attracts those electrons again.
Additionally, these hydrogen fuel cells contain a proton exchange membrane (a type of electrolyte) which stops any negatively charged atoms from getting through. Finally, there is the catalyst which makes the reaction happen and also where the negative atoms return to form water all over again.
Water is actually important with this type of fuel cell for two reasons. First, water is the best source for the hydrogen which can easily be separated out through an electric charge. Second, the proton exchange membrane must be wet for it to work properly.
How H2 Fuel Cells Work
After the hydrogen and water are separated, the pressurized hydrogen is pushed into the anode portion of the fuel cell and into the catalyst which breaks each atom into two positive Hydrogen ions, as well as two electrons. The anode pulls the electrons back into it then they move over to the cathode side. As they are pulled towards that side, they pass through an external circuit which converts their energy into a useful process, such as powering part of your automobile.
In the cathode side, the divided oxygen is also forced to pass through the catalyst and this gives the atoms a strong negative charge which attracts those remaining Hydrogen ions back. On that side of the fuel cell, everything is recombined as water.
Generally, these fuel cells would not work alone. They simply don’t generate enough power to be valuable. However, when they are stacked together they can be much more powerful.
The Benefits of Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology
One of the benefits of using hydrogen fuel cells is their increased efficiency. Even by modest standards, they are far more efficient than cars that are powered by gasoline and can be more efficient than electric cars when other factors are taken into consideration.
There are two components to fuel efficiency: how much energy content is turned into electrical energy and how much of that energy can be used as mechanical work. With a hydrogen fuel cell, about 80% of the hydrogen’s energy capacity is utilized and about 80% of that energy can actually be used as work. That brings you to around 64% in terms of efficiency. While that many not seem impressive on its own it does stack up well against other types of energy.
When you fill up your automobile with gasoline, most of the money you spend is being converted into wasted energy. All of that heat you feel coming out of your car is mostly waste and a lot of what is used goes to powering the things, such as fans and pumps, needed to keep the car going. Surprisingly, gasoline-powered engines only convert about 20% of their fuel into mechanical work. That’s a huge difference.
On the other hand, electric engines are more efficient than those powered by hydrogen fuel cell technology. They usually score around a 72% in terms of efficiency. However, you have to take into consideration the generation of that electric power – it doesn’t end up in your car by magic. Some energy sources are more efficient than others, but if you’re generating that electricity for your car from a power plant that relies on the old-fashioned combustion process (which is most of the plants around) then the overall efficiency of your car drops to around 26%.
Why Should I Care About Hydrogen Fuel Cells?
Hydrogen fuel cell technology has great promise for improving our lives in the future and for being a more economical way of powering our on-the-go lifestyles. Knowing more about it today will help you understand the benefits when the time comes to make important decisions about the technology and its implementation.
in fact, you can start right now to implement hydrogen fuel cell tech into your own gas or diesel car. The water4gas guide gives out specific and tested instructions on how to convert your car to use the power of water to icrease your mileage by as mich as %40! Read all about it here.
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