Basic concepts of chemical bonding - Term Paper Example

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Author’s Name Subject Date Fuel Cells Chemistry plays a vital role in the production of energy. Today, various chemical reactions are used as alternatives for fossil fuels in the generation of energy. This has been prompted by the fact that the use of fossil fuels is exhaustible and results in harmful emissions…
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Basic concepts of chemical bonding
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Unlike other energy sources, no combustion is involved. This means that carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and other harmful gases are not produced. The chemical reactions generate heat and water. The water generated can be employed for other purposes (Renewable Energy World [REW]). This paper will focus on discussing the chemical components of the fuel cells. The fuel cell comprises a cathode, anode and electrolyte. It is also composed of an anode and cathode catalyst layer. The electrode is made up of a porous material. This material has high electron conductivity and zero proton conduction (Robert 684). Porous graphite thin layers have been used as electrodes in various fuel cells. The anode and cathode catalyst layers depend on the type of the fuel cell. Majority of the low temperature fuel cell utilize platinum while nickel is used in the high temperature cells. The electrolyte is a material that transfers ions. In a fuel cell, it is made up of materials that facilitate high proton conduction and theoretically zero conduction of electrons (Rob 10). The charge carriers between the anode and the cathode are made of different materials depending on the fuel cell type. This enables the conveying of electrons from the negatively charged anode to the positively charged cathode. This transfer of electrons facilitates the transfer of energy to an external pathway. The overall chemical reaction in the prototype fuel cell is 2H2+ O2 > 2H2O. In order for the reaction to occur in the fuel cell, hydrogen and oxygen must react in order to generate electrons and form bonds (Larminine 43). At the anode electrode, hydrogen is dissociated into electrons and protons. The chemical reaction at the anode is 2H2 > 4H+ + 4e- where hydrogen is oxidized to release four electrons. These electrons are transmitted through an external pathway to the cathode. They can be used to generate energy thus drive an external device. At the cathode, oxygen is reduced, and dissociates to form water. The electrons that are transmitted through the external pathway and the protons which are transmitted through the electrode react at the cathode. This oxygen proton and electron reaction forms water. The chemical reaction at the cathode is 4H++ 4e- + O2>2H2O (Sorensen 55). Hydrogen (the fuel) enters fuel cell and is mixed with air; therefore, oxidation of the fuel. Hydrogen is broken down to electrons and protons. In the example of PAFC (phosphoric acid Fuel Cells) and PEMFC (proton exchange membrane fuel cells), the positive charge ions move via the electrolyte across a voltage so as to generate electric power. The electrons and protons are then recombined with O2 so to generate water. As H2O is removed, more protons are drawn across the electrolyte. This leads to continued reaction; hence, further power production (Rob 20). In solid oxide fuel cells, it is oxygen radicals that move across the electrolyte, and not the protons. In molten carbonate fuel cells, carbon dioxide is used to react with oxygen and electrons, and combine so as to generate carbonate ions. This are then transmitted through the electrolyte. The hydrogen and oxygen used in these reactions is supplied from the air. Hydrogen can also be produced from natural gases, for example, gasoline. The natural gases are subjected to reforming reactions so as to generate hydrogen. Other sources of hydrogen, for example ammonia, require electricity to spilt hydrogen from the Read More
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