Fuel Cells & Hydrogen
A fuel cell is an electrochemical device that combines hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity, with water and heat as its by-product. In its simplest form, a single fuel cell consists of two electrodes - an anode and a cathode - with an electrolyte between them. At the anode, hydrogen reacts with a catalyst, creating a positively charged ion and a negatively charged electron. The proton then passes through the electrolyte, while the electron travels through a circuit, creating a current. At the cathode, oxygen reacts with the ion and electron, forming water and useful heat. This single cell generates about 0.7 volts, just about enough to power a single light bulb. When cells are stacked in series the output increases, resulting in fuel cells anywhere from several watts to multiple megawatts.
There are many different Types of Fuel Cells, each with their own unique operating characteristics. Many fuel cells are fueled with hydrogen gas, which can be derived from many sources. A fuel cell system that includes a fuel reformer can utilize hydrogen from any hydrocarbon fuel, such as natural gas, methanol, or gasoline. Visit the Hydrogen Basics page to learn more.
Since fuel cells rely on an electrochemical process and not combustion, emissions from fuel cells are significantly lower than emissions from even the cleanest fuel combustion processes. Fuel cells are also quiet, durable, and highly efficient. These are just a few of the many Benefits fuel cells provide.
In this section you will also find Frequently Asked Questions, a Glossary of fuel cell terms, and the Fuel Cell Library, which houses a collection of external links and resources that explore the many applications of fuel cell technology.
Enjoy navigating our site, and welcome to the world of fuel cells!