Innovation In Sustainable Engineering Design: Hydrogen Fuel Cells. It needs to be at least 1500 words. Coal is not only rich in energy content but also rich in hazardous materials that are harmful to the environment. On the other hand, cleaner fossil fuels including natural gas do produce hazardous fumes that emit into the environment when these are burnt to access their energy content.
Most thermal power generation plants use coal as it is the cheapest fuel in most of the regions among all other fossil fuel resources. Underdeveloped countries are also contributing mush to emitting harmful wastes into the environment. There is a need to go for renewable and sustainable energy resources. A hydrogen fuel cell is also a renewable energy resource and it can help underdeveloped countries to cope with the energy demands yet remain in a healthy environment.
A hydrogen fuel cell is a power generation system that utilizes hydrogen and oxygen at electrodes to produce power. The power generated by the hydrogen fuel cell is converted by gathering the free electrons during the reaction between hydrogen and oxygen in the hydrogen fuel cell. A fuel cell has an anode and a cathode. It is obvious that anode has a positive charge and cathode has a negative charge. A single pair of electrodes only generates 0.6 to 0.7 DC volts. In order to achieve a consistent DC current that can be fed to a system, cells are stacked in series and parallel combinations.
On the other hand, the current produces by the cells depends on various factors. These factors include the side of the electrodes, the distance between the electrodes, the material of the electrodes, and the amount of air and hydrogen fed into the system (Nice and Strickland, 2015).
Hydrogen is introduced at the anode. while oxygen or air introduced at the cathode terminal of the hydrogen fuel cell. Hydrogen reacts with the anode and gives an electron at the positive terminal. While ionic hydrogen remains in the electrolytic solution.
On the other hand, oxygen or air is introduced at the cathode of the cell. Oxygen reacts with the cathode and takes the hydrogen ion from the ionic electrolytic solution and produces steam that is released from the exhaust of the fuel cells. Heat is also released, as the reaction is exothermic. In vehicles, this heat is radiated by circulation water through the walls of fuel cells or through heat sinks attached to the walls of the fuel cells. In general, hydrogen fuel cells ate 40-60% efficient depending on the type of fuel cell technologies.