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Fuel Cell

A Brief Description:

A fuel cell is an electrochemical energy conversion device that produces electricity from external supplies of fuel (on the anode side) and oxidant (on the cathode side). These react in the presence of an electrolyte. Generally, the reactants flow in and reaction products flow out while the electrolyte remains in the cell. Fuel cells can operate virtually continuously as long as the necessary flows are maintained.

Fuel cells are often considered to be very attractive in modern applications for their high efficiency and ideally emission-free use, in contrast to currently more common fuels such as methane or natural gas that generate carbon dioxide. The only by-product of a hydrogen fuel cell is water vapor.

Fuel cells are very useful as power sources in remote locations, such as spacecraft, remote weather stations, and in certain military applications. A fuel cell system running on hydrogen can be compact, lightweight and has no major moving parts.

A near-term application is combined heat and power for office buildings and factories. This type of system would give nearly constant electric power (selling it to the grid when it is not consumed within the building), and at the same time produce hot water from the waste heat. MCFC have already been installed in these applications worldwide, while SOFC, prototypes also exist.

31 Jan 2007 18:36:52

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