Various experts are vouching that fuel cells will be the future in generating electric power for everyday use. The fuel cell is a device that works with the help of hydrogen along with an oxidant that creates electricity. This is further achieved through an electrochemical process.
Similar to the batteries that are present in the automobiles, the fuel cell converts the chemical energy to electrical energy. All fuel cells have a constant simple configuration, of an electrolyte and two electrodes. However, there are various types of fuel cells, depending on the type of electrolyte they use.
Various mix of fuels like diesel or methanol as oxidants are also feasible. Most fuel cells that are in use today, however, make use of oxygen and hydrogen and as chemical agents.
Fuel cells are used in transportation, portable uses, and stationary installations.
Fuel cells might power our cars in the future. Hydrogen will replace the petroleum fuel that is being used in most of the vehicles today. Most of the vehicle manufacturers are researching and developing various transportation fuel cell technologies. Among the various types, the stationery types are the largest and most powerful one. These give a clean, reliable source of power to banks, airports, hospitals, military bases, homes and schools.
Fuel cells are capable of power almost all device that is portable and machines that use batteries. As opposed to typical batteries, which finally die, a fuel cell is active as long as fuel and oxidants are being supplied. In the future, the probable devices for the use of fuel cells will be cellular phones, laptops, video recorders and so on.
Fuel cells have numerous benefits the traditional combustion-based technologies presently in various power plants and cars. The greenhouse gas emission is comparatively less and no air pollutants create smog and lead to other health problems. In the event, if pure hydrogen is used as fuel, the cell will emit heat and water as byproducts. These products are also more efficient in terms of energy and combustion technologies.
The largest challenge present is the cost. Presently, Fuel cells are unsuccessful in competing with traditional pocket-friendly fuel sources. The fast-paced technological advances are in process and likely to bridge the gap. In spite of the fact that hydrogen is abundantly present in the universe, it is difficult to store and distribute the same. Filling up of hydrogen at local gas stations is still not feasible.
Most people have access to other natural gases like propane tanks in their homes. Thus making it possible to have homes powered by fuel cells in the future. Methanol, which belongs to the liquid fuel category is easy to transport and can be used in the automobile fuel cell. However, methanol like other gasoline also produces environment polluting carbon dioxide.