The Fuel Cell Generator explained.
The fuel cell was invented by Sir William Groove, a minister in 1845, in the days when the steam engine was considered to be High Tech.
In essence it is a membrane with a catalyst.
If hydrogen is up against one side of it and oxygen is pulling on the other side of it, the H+ core will be pulled through the membrane to the cathode side. The electrons (e- ) will get stuck in front of the membrane on the cathode side. This creates a strong positive charge and a strong negative charge, separated by the membrane. If these two sides are connected to each other by means of a copper wire, the electrons will move to the positive charge and electricity is generated. Hydrogen and oxygen react to water, which leaves the exhaust in the form of steam.
These three parts collectively form a Fuel Cell. It has a thickness of roughly 5 mm and produces just under 1 Volt. In order to obtain a good voltage, a number of cells are stacked on top of each other and are connected in series. This is known as a Fuel Cell Stack.
The stack is fitted into a box in a horizontal position with an electronic control and inlets and exhausts in the end plates.
For this system to work it is necessary to
• add hydrogen from what is often a 350
• add oxygen. This can be in the form of
• drain off the water produced.
• cool the stack. The efficiency is around
50%, which means that the stack is
heated as part of the process.
• it is possible to balance this power by
means of a control.
Because of the latter these sub-systems are collectively referred to as the Balance of Plant. The stack will then produce unregulated power, which varies in terms of voltage and current and is therefore not yet ready for use. Moreover a different voltage is generally required. This is why an electronic converter adapts the current.
In mobile applications the amount of current required always varies quite considerably. A fuel cell will not work optimally in that case. If a battery or supercap is used to take care of the variation, the fuel cell will no longer have to provide the peak currents. This means that the size of the system can be reduced and it becomes cheaper as a result.
The fuel cell system produces power without making any noise and only emits water.
It also does not produce any NOx or fine particles. Fed with sustainable hydrogen it is even Zero Emission. Combined with an electric motor, the result is an engine which is absolutely clean and silent and can be used in any type of vehicle or vessel.