Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology Problems Essays

What is Fuel Cell Essay

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Define fuel cell : it is a device that converts chemical energy of a fuel along electricity through a chemical reaction with oxygen or another oxidizing agent.
Introduction
Hydrogen is the most common fuel, but hydrocarbons such as natural gas, and alcohols such as methanol are often used. Fuel cells differ is batteries in that they require a continuous source of fuel and oxygen / air along maintain the chemical reaction while in a stack the chemicals in the battery react with each other along generate an electromotive force (emf). Fuel cells can produce electricity continuously as long as these inputs are supplied.
There are many types of fuel cells, but all consist of an anode, a…show more content…

Define fuel cell : it is a device that converts chemical energy of a fuel along electricity through a chemical reaction with oxygen or another oxidizing agent.
Introduction
Hydrogen is the most common fuel, but hydrocarbons such as natural gas, and alcohols such as methanol are often used. Fuel cells differ is batteries in that they require a continuous source of fuel and oxygen / air along maintain the chemical reaction while in a stack the chemicals in the battery react with each other along generate an electromotive force (emf). Fuel cells can produce electricity continuously as long as these inputs are supplied.
There are many types of fuel cells, but all consist of an anode, a cathode and an electrolyte which allows along move the loads between the two sides of the fuel cell. The electrons are attracted is the anode along the cathode through an external circuit , production of DC electricity . As the main difference between the types of fuel cells is the electrolyte, fuel cells are classified by the type of electrolyte they use followed by the difference in startup time is 1 sec along 10 min for PEMFC SOFC . Fuel cells are available in a variety of sizes . Individual fuel cells produce relatively low electric potential , about 0.7 volts , so cells are " stacked " , or placed in series along increase voltage and meet the needs of an application. In addition along electricity , fuel cells produce water , heat and ,

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(This initial post is rather long, and more an essay, opinion piece, or rant than anything factual. It probably shouldn’t be taken entirely seriously. Although it started out as a reply on this thread: http://www.teslamotors.com/forum/forums/musk-hydrogen-fuel-cells-so-bull..., it grew far beyond the length for any kind of acceptable thread post, and indeed, far beyond the length of a typical forum topic. However, it might interest at least some of you. If it does, please comment.)

Toyota recently announced that they intend to start working on hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles. That has caused a certain amount of controversy in these quarters. The argument in favor of hydrogen FCVs comes down to this: They can, at least in theory, solve the two biggest difficulties with battery-electric vehicles – limited range and slow charging. In theory - even though they represent a new, barely tried technology, present considerable challenges, have serious inherent inefficiencies as an integrated system, and may require significant technical breakthroughs to bring out of the lab and into the real world. Battery-electric vehicles, in contrast, seem to have reached a technical plateau: They are workable (in the case of the Model S, very workable), but do require some adjustment of driving habits and sacrifices of convenience, and any improvements in the near future are likely to be incremental.

However, hydrogen fuel cells do have one enormous advantage that no one seems to have brought up directly, although a number of posters in the other thread touched upon it:

Politics.

For while a "hydrogen economy" may be, for many reasons, so much vaporware, and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles may be a poor substitute for BEVs and even IC autos, they will fit neatly into our current political reality. Much more neatly than any kind of battery vehicle. In fact, hydrogen is not all that far from being a drop-in replacement for our present petrolist economy and political order, and might be equally acceptable to many of our largest, most entrenched, and most influential special interests:

First, a full, nationwide network of hydrogen fuel stations represents an immense construction initiative. Building them would be a huge boost to the construction industry. And quite a few CEOs of the larger construction companies would have no trouble getting a golf date with their Congressmen, and be quite willing and eager to drop a private word in a receptive ear.

Next, as some have already pointed out, those stations would be built by public money. And then, if I know anything about American politics, they would be leased - at a loss, of course - to private operators, probably ones with experience in the gas station business. Who would then run them at a considerable profit, and return some of that profit in the form of generous, deep-pocketed campaign donations to those wise and far-seeing statesmen who built the gravy train for them to ride upon. Thus, operating in the grand American tradition of socialized investment, socialized expenditures, and socialized loss – but privatized profits and even more privatized payoffs.

Fuel cells themselves, from what I understand, are finicky. They require very pure hydrogen to operate properly, and can easily become contaminated by gases from the atmosphere. They'll probably require more than a bit of maintenance, and will need regular dealer appointments to keep operating well. Or, perhaps, to even keep operating at all. And there we see the National Auto Dealers' Association angle.

For the cars themselves, and the general auto industry that builds them, it seems as if the choice would be about even - bulky hydrogen tanks and expensive fuel cells, as opposed to bulky, heavy, and expensive lithium-ion battery packs. Each would require extensive re-engineering and re-tooling, although the BEV is simpler, almost certainly safer, and a better-known technology. Still, when you count in the real-world political advantages of hydrogen, the big auto makers may wind up electing to go that way. Not because it works better, but simply because it rocks fewer boats. And that seems to be Toyota’s choice.

There's also an internal governmental angle - not quite the same sort of private special interest as the others, but equally influential. Right now, road construction and maintenance gets its financial support from gas taxes. Since hydrogen would also be sold from a type of gas station, it can be easily taxed in the same way, and would need no new government institutions to collect that tax. Which makes things a lot simpler for those who would have to actually administer those institutions.

Now here's the biggest issue, at least when it comes to raw political power: Despite Green pipe-dreams of wind and solar power plants electrolyzing water, very little hydrogen would probably be produced that way. The process is simply too awkward and inefficient. Instead, as someone has previously brought up, the hydrogen would mostly come from using steam to crack natural gas. Which, if I am not mistaken, comes from oil wells. Need I say anything more about what companies own those wells, their potential for continued record profits that those wells' continued use would result in, and their level of influence in Washington, in every state capitol, in every city government, and all the way down to the smallest of Town Councils?

Finally, hydrogen fuel cells are very easily sold as a direct political policy. Greens and other liberal idealists will buy into them for that beautiful pipe dream, and not concern themselves with the less-pretty reality. And the opposition, right on the heels of the well-connected Big Businessmen who support them, will dive headlong into that ugly, inefficient, barely-achievable, wonderfully lucrative reality, and wallow in another sort of green.

(Continued in http://www.teslamotors.com/forum/forums/argument-against-batteryelectric....)

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