Hydrogen Fuel Cell Essay

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Hydrogen Fuel Cell The Hydrogen Fuel Cell could revolutionize the world. This ingenious technology, which creates electricity from the chemical reactions of hydrogen and oxygen has, in its 150-year history, passed many of the critical tests along the path from invention to innovation. Recent developments in fuel cell technology and concurrent developments within the energy and automotive industries have brought the world to brink of the fuel cell age and the hydrogen economy. The future is, however, inherently murky. Fuel cells still face significant technological, political and economic hurdles before they can realize their truly awesome potential. An examination of these hurdles, set to the backdrop of an explanation of the…show more content…
A fuel cell is, in principle, a very simple electrochemical device. The chemical reaction that powers hydrogen fuel cells is the same as that which occurs when hydrogen burns. The chemical equation for this reaction is: 2H2 + O2 ( 2H2O + energy. "Normally hydrogen burns, reacting with oxygen from the air, producing water, heat and light. ... In the fuel cell the chemical reaction is exactly the same, but instead of producing light and heat energy, electrical energy is produced."2 All fuel cells consist of an electrolyte (a substance that allows only the passage of ions) sandwiched between two electrodes. When a fuel containing hydrogen is passed over the negative electrode, otherwise known as an anode, it is ionized. Ionization of the fuel, often accomplished with the assistance of a catalyst, removes electrons from the hydrogen creating positively charged hydrogen ions and negatively charged free electrons. Since only the ions can pass through the electrolyte situated between the electrodes, the electrons must find another route to the positive electrode or cathode, where they will be reunited with the hydrogen ions and combined with oxygen atoms to form water. The electrons passing around the electrolyte constitute an electric current, and thus can be used to provide power during their journey from anode to cathode.3
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