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In essence, a fuel cell works by catalysis, separating the component electrons and protons of the reactant fuel, and forcing the electrons to travel through a circuit, hence converting them to electrical power. Another catalytic process takes the electrons back in, combining them with the protons and the oxidant to form waste products (typically simple compounds like water and carbon dioxide). In the archetypal hydrogen–oxygen proton exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMFC) design, a proton-conducting polymer membrane, (the electrolyte), separates the anode and cathode sides. This was called a "solid polymer electrolyte fuel cell" (SPEFC) in the early 1970s, before the proton exchange mechanism was well-understood. (Notice that "polymer electrolyte membrane" and "proton exchange membrane" result in the same acronym.) On the anode side, hydrogen diffuses to the anode catalyst where it later dissociates into protons and electrons. The protons are conducted through the membrane to the cathode, but the electrons are forced to travel in an external circuit (supplying power) because the membrane is electrically insulating. On the cathode catalyst, oxygen molecules react with the electrons (which have traveled through the external circuit) and protons to form water — in this example, the only waste product, either liquid or vapor. In addition to this pure hydrogen type, there are hydrocarbon fuels for fuel cells, including diesel, methanol (see: direct-methanol fuel cells) and chemical hydrides. The waste products with these types of fuel are carbon dioxide and water. Construction of a low temperature PEMFC: Bipolar plate as electrode with in-milled gas channel structure, fabricated from conductive plastics (enhanced with carbon nanotubes for more conductivity); Porous carbon papers; reactive layer, usually on the polymer membrane applied; polymer membrane.The materials used in fuel cells differ by type. The electrode–bipolar plates are usually made of metal, nickel or carbon nanotubes, and are coated with a catalyst (like platinum, nano iron powders or palladium) for higher efficiency. Carbon paper separates them from the electrolyte. The electrolyte could be ceramic or a membrane. A typical PEM fuel cell produces a voltage from 0.6 V to 0.7 V at full rated load. Voltage decreases as current increases, due to several factors: Activation loss Ohmic loss (voltage drop due to resistance of the cell components and interconnects) Mass transport loss (depletion of reactants at catalyst sites under high loads, causing rapid loss of voltage)[2] To deliver the desired amount of energy, the fuel cells can be combined in series and parallel circuits, where series yield higher voltage, and parallel allows a stronger current to be drawn, this design is referred to as a fuel cell stack. Further, the cell surface area can be increased, to allow stronger current from each cell.

 

 
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Keywords
fuel  cell  energy  electricity  
 
 About This Video
 
 Subject Energy
 Category White Board
 Duration 00:07:02
 Views 3670
 Added 28-10-07
 Contributor    sidpatel
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