What are fuel cells? (OpenStax Chemistry 2e)
A fuel cell is a galvanic cell that uses traditional combustive fuels, most often hydrogen or methane, that are continuously fed into the cell along with an oxidant. (An alternative, but not very popular, name for a fuel cell is a flow battery.) Within the cell, fuel and oxidant undergo the same redox chemistry as when they are combusted, but via a catalyzed electrochemical that is significantly more efficient. For example, a typical hydrogen fuel cell uses graphite electrodes embedded with platinum-based catalysts to accelerate the two half-cell reactions:
These types of fuel cells generally produce voltages of approximately 1.2 V. Compared to an internal combustion engine, the energy efficiency of a fuel cell using the same redox reaction is typically more than double (~20%–25% for an engine versus ~50%–75% for a fuel cell). Hydrogen fuel cells are commonly used on extended space missions, and prototypes for personal vehicles have been developed, though the technology remains relatively immature.
Flowers, P., Theopold, K., Langley, R., & Robinson, W. R. (2019, February 14). Chemistry 2e. Houston, Texas: OpenStax. Access for free at: https://openstax.org/books/chemistry-2e
Research Article: Fuel cells are a commercially viable alternative for the production of “clean” energy
Date Published: December 14, 2015 Publisher: Springer Netherlands Author(s): Dimitris K. Niakolas, Maria Daletou, Stylianos G. Neophytides, Constantinos G. Vayenas. http://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-015-0731-z Abstract: Fuel cells present a highly efficient and environmentally friendly alternative technology for decentralized energy production. The scope of the present study is to provide an overview of the technological and commercialization readiness level … Continue reading
Date Published: June 11, 2015 Publisher: Springer Berlin Heidelberg Author(s): Morio Miyahara, Atsushi Kouzuma, Kazuya Watanabe. http://doi.org/10.1186/s13568-015-0123-6 Abstract: Understanding of how operational parameters affect the composition of exoelectrogenic microbes is an important step in the development of efficient microbial fuel cells (MFCs). In the present study, single-chamber MFCs were inoculated with rice paddy-field soil and … Continue reading
Date Published: January 3, 2012 Publisher: Springer Author(s): Rachel C Wagner, Sikandar Porter-Gill, Bruce E Logan. http://doi.org/10.1186/2191-0855-2-2 Abstract: Current-generating (exoelectrogenic) bacteria in bioelectrochemical systems (BESs) may not be culturable using standard in vitro agar-plating techniques, making isolation of new microbes a challenge. More in vivo like conditions are needed where bacteria can be grown and … Continue reading