Fuel Cells Essay

Submitted By electricalkank
Words: 618
Pages: 3

What is a device that generates energy by way of chemical reaction? Or how about a device that can generate or produce a tiny amount of direct current electricity? Better yet a device that produces this tiny amount of DC electricity with creating little to no pollution? That one simple device is referring to a fuel cell.
The book definition of a fuel cell is a “device that generates electricity by a chemical reaction”(#1). The purpose of using a fuel cell is to create an electrical current that can be directed outside the cell to do various types of work. Some examples of work that a fuel cell may be used for may include; powering an electric motor or lighting up a light bulb. In order for a fuel cell to complete these tasks, each fuel cell needs two electrodes known as an anode and a cathode. These electrodes are important to the fuel cells because this is where the chemical reaction takes place to produce the electricity. In addition to the electrodes, each fuel cell contains electrolyte. The electrolyte “carries electrically charged particles from one electrode to the other, and a catalyst, which speeds the reactions at the electrodes.”(#1) Even though the anode, cathode, and electrolyte are all an important part of a fuel cell, a fuel cell needs some type of fuel to operate. There are many various types of fuels that can run or power a fuel cell. There are basically four primary fuel types that a fuel cell may use. The primary fuel types include; “Hydrogen, carbon monoxide, methanol, and dilute light hydrocarbons like methane, depending upon the fuel cell type.” (#3) For example, in an Alkali fuel cell it requires the use of pure hydrogen fuel. (#1) An example where you may see carbon monoxide operating a fuel cell may be in a high temperature fuel cells, such as a Solid Oxide Fuel cells (SOFC) or Molten Carbonate Fuel cells (MCFC)(#3). The use of methanol fuel would be found in a direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC)(#3). However even though there are a variety of fuel cells, there are many conflicts that are involved within holding back the usage of fuel cells. A big issue is the flexibility of fuels that can operate fuel cells. Take hydrogen for instance, even though it’s “ the most abundant element in the universe” (#2) it “must be cultivated from other molecules”(#2). In addition, “free hydrogen is volatile and