Related topics: hydrogen · catalyst · energy · electricity · chemical reactions

A new facet of fuel cell chemistry

Solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) are a promising technology for cleanly converting chemical energy to electrical energy. But their efficiency depends on the rate at which solids and gasses interact at the devices' electrode ...

A new fuel cell electrolyte

As far back as the 1930s, inventors have commercialized fuel cells as a versatile source of power. Now, researchers from Japan have highlighted the impressive chemistry of an essential component of an upcoming fuel cell technology.

Phonon catalysis could lead to a new field

Batteries and fuel cells often rely on a process known as ion diffusion to function. In ion diffusion, ionized atoms move through solid materials, similar to the process of water being absorbed by rice when cooked. Just like ...

Enzyme system for the hydrogen industry

An enzyme could make a dream come true for the energy industry: It can efficiently produce hydrogen using electricity and can also generate electricity from hydrogen. The enzyme is protected by embedding it in a polymer. ...

A silver lining for extreme electronics

Tomorrow's cutting-edge technology will need electronics that can tolerate extreme conditions. That's why a group of researchers led by Michigan State University's Jason Nicholas is building stronger circuits today.

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Fuel cell

A fuel cell is an electrochemical conversion device. It produces electricity from fuel (on the anode side) and an oxidant (on the cathode side), which react in the presence of an electrolyte. The reactants flow into the cell, and the reaction products flow out of it, while the electrolyte remains within it. Fuel cells can operate virtually continuously as long as the necessary flows are maintained.

Fuel cells are different from electrochemical cell batteries in that they consume reactant from an external source, which must be replenished – a thermodynamically open system. By contrast, batteries store electrical energy chemically and hence represent a thermodynamically closed system.

Many combinations of fuels and oxidants are possible. A hydrogen fuel cell uses hydrogen as its fuel and oxygen (usually from air) as its oxidant. Other fuels include hydrocarbons and alcohols. Other oxidants include chlorine and chlorine dioxide.

The principle of the fuel cell had been demonstrated by Sir William Grove in 1839, and other investigators had experimented with various forms of fuel cell. The first practical fuel cell was developed by Francis Thomas Bacon in 1959.

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