Hydrogen Fuel¬ Cell

Context: The scientific test experiment of hydrogen powered buses will be done between Delhi and Faridabad. About Hydrogen Fuel Cell:
  • A hydrogen fuel cell is an electrochemical cell that converts the chemical energy of hydrogen into electricity. 
  • The cell consists of a positive anode and a negative cathode and it uses electrolysis to generate electricity.
  • The fuel cell’s core is made of solid or liquid electrolyte to aide the process.
Advantages of Hydrogen Fuel Cell:
  • Higher efficiency: Hydrogen-powered fuel cells have two or three times the efficiency of traditional combustion technologies.
  • Fuel Abundance: It is a basic earth element and is available in abundance.
  • Clean fuel: When it burns, it doesn’t emit harmful substances. The only by-product or emission from the usage of hydrogen fuel is water. It makes this fuel 100% clean.
  • Environmentally Friendly: It is a non-toxic substance which is rare for a fuel source.
  • Renewable source: Hydrogen can be produced again and again, unlike other non-renewable sources of energy.
  • No recharging needed: Fuel cells work like batteries but, unlike batteries, they will not run down or need recharging and can continue to produce electricity while the fuel source (in this case, hydrogen) is supplied.
  • No moving parts: Being comprised of an anode, cathode and an electrolyte membrane, there are no moving parts in a fuel cell, making them silent in operation and highly reliable.
Challenges Associated:
  • Cost: The cost of fuel cells can be high given the use of platinum as one of the largest component materials. There is work underway to find non-platinum catalyst approaches.
  • Hydrogen Extraction: The extraction of hydrogen for use in fuel cells can take a lot of energy to achieve, undermining the green benefits of fuel cell use
  • Infrastructure: There is a need to create the infrastructure to support the growth in fuel cell use, including retrofitting vehicles.
  • Safety: The flammable nature of hydrogen poses evident safety concerns for its widespread use.
  • Fuel Storage: Hydrogen’s energy content by volume is low. This makes storing hydrogen a challenge because it requires high pressures, low temperatures, or chemical processes to be stored compactly.
Applications: 
  • Stationary fuel cells can be utilised as a backup source of power, power for remote locations, distributed power generation and co-generation.
  • Fuel cells have the capacity to power any portable application that uses batteries – from hand-held devices to portable generators.
  • Fuel cells power transportation such as personal vehicles, trucks, buses and marine vessels; it can also provide auxiliary power to traditional transportation technologies.
News Source: The Hindu

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