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AmerCable Incorporated

energy - fuel cells

How a fuel cell works View/download the UTC Fuel Cells "How a fuel cell works" video:


A fuel cell is an electrochemical device that combines hydrogen fuel and oxygen from the air to produce electricity, heat and water. Fuel cells operate without combustion, so they are virtually pollution free. Since the fuel is converted directly to electricity, a fuel cell can operate at much higher efficiencies than internal combustion engines, extracting more electricity from the same amount of fuel. The fuel cell itself has no moving parts - making it a quiet and reliable source of power.

The video above shows how a fuel cell produces electricity. The fuel cell is composed of an anode (a negative electrode that repels electrons), an electrolyte in the center, and a cathode (a positive electrode that attracts electrons).

As hydrogen flows into the fuel cell anode, a platinum catalyst on the anode helps to separate the gas into protons (hydrogen ions) and electrons. The electrolyte in the center allows only the protons to pass through the electrolyte to the cathode side of the fuel cell. The electrons cannot pass through this electrolyte and flow through an external circuit in the form of electric current. This current can power an electric load, such as the light bulb shown in the video.

As oxygen flows into the fuel cell cathode, another platinum catalyst helps the oxygen, protons, and electrons combine to produce pure water and heat.

Individual fuel cells can be then combined into a fuel cell "stack." The number of fuel cells in the stack determines the total voltage, and the surface area of each cell determines the total current. Multiplying the voltage by the current yields the total electrical power generated.



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