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This is then used to run a turbine to produce electricity. Thus there are many intermediate steps each with certain efficiency (always less than 100%) associated with each of them. This is because thermal energy is the worst form of energy with maximum entropy and therefore can never be converted fully into useful work. Now the overall efficiency of chemical potential energy to electricity conversion is a product of efficiency of each of the intermediate steps and therefore is much smaller. The best thermal power plants operate at maximum conversion efficiency of about 40%. Also, the combustion products are highly polluting adding to carbon emission and global warming. Fuel cells on the other hand convert the chemical potential energy directly into electricity and thus have very high conversion efficiency which is typically 70%. Besides, the reaction products are relatively harmless and in many cases completely harmless. Thus fuel cells are being seen as power plants of future and a tangible potential solution for containing the menace of carbon emission and therefore, global warming. These are already into many specialized and high end applications. In this report the basic principle, related developments and current and potential applications of fuel cells are briefly discussed.
A fuel cell is like a galvanic cell. It directly converts chemical energy into electricity and is highly efficient. It is now possible to make such cells in which reactants are fed continuously to the electrodes and products are removed continuously from the electrolyte compartment. Galvanic cells that are designed to convert the energy of combustion of fuels like hydrogen, methane, methanol, etc. directly into electrical energy are called fuel cells.
Such a fuel cell was used for providing electrical power in the Apollo space program. The water vapors produced during the reaction were
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There are various researches done in this field and several other types of fuel such as electric fuel, natural gas, hydrogen, fuel cell etc are in the development stages. However, these fuel have to be feasible for utilization. Of the various types of alternative fuels , natural gas is the most economical and reduces air pollution.
"Hydrogen fuel cells offer a solution to the impending world energy crisis which is arising as a result of diminishing fossil fuel reserves and increasing prices. Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe and can be produced locally through renewable means, thus helping to provide energy security in most regions of the world." Garrity, 2000 implied.
The author states that though the technology has economic and environmental advantages, there are certain obstacles to be surmounted. Composed of a single electron and a single proton, hydrogen is the simplest and most common of all elements and will therefore seep out of any container regardless of its material strength.
The components were dissolved by swirling and stirring with a magnetic stir bar, which hastened the process. Thereafter, the container was autoclaved.
The appropriate amount of sodium phosphate dibasic hepta-hydrate’s (HNa2O4P) was found
Therefore improved energy generating devices are being developed today. The following sessions will give a detailed overview of the fuel cells, their significance in the contemporary world, and the way they work. This process description will serve as a guide
The author of the text comments on the peculiarities of fuel cells. Notably, all fuel cells contain an anode, the positive electrode, a cathode the negative electrode and an electrolyte-a liquid that allows charges to move between the two sides of the fuel cell. And this electrolyte has to be in liquid form to reduce hydrogen molecule leakage via the container’s walls.
According to the text, global warming is a steady rise of the world temperature which causes melting of the North and South Pole regions causing rising of the sea tides. That's why fuel cells have a great advantage as compared to other traditional sources of energy for they are more efficient and cause less pollution of the environment.
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