The Power of Fuel Cells

As the scientific world progresses and the over-consumption of fossil fuels continues, scientists, environmentalists, and businessmen alike seek alternate forms of energy production and usage. One such alternative is viable through fuel cells. Fuel cells can power cars, trucks, and buses without emitting harmful tailpipe emissions. Such vehicles will be cleaner and more energy efficient than those powered by an internal combustion engine. Fuel cells also may provide energy to factories and homes without creating smokestack pollution. They offer significant improvements in energy efficiency as they remove the intermediate step of combustion and mechanical devices such as turbines and pistons. Unlike conventional systems, their high efficiency is not compromised by small sizes. Fuel cell cogeneration plants have demonstrated unprecedented reliability and durability that is significantly better than conventional competitive equipment. The absence of combustion and moving parts means that fuel cells can run continuously for long periods of time before servicing and that they are far less prone to breakdown or forced outages. A number of fuel cell systems operating in “real world” commercial conditions have run continuously at full power for more than a year and over thirty have exceeded six months.
One of the most exceptional qualities about fuel cells is that they promote energy security as they can use hydrogen derived from a variety of sources, including methane, propane, coal, and renewables such as biomass or, through electrolysis, wind and solar energy. In fact, hydrogen is the simplest and most abundant element in the universe, most commonly found on earth as H2O–water. Hydrogen is also the fuel of choice for energy-efficient fuel cells. Furthermore, hydrogen boasts many important advantages over other fuels: it is non-toxic, renewable, clean to use, and packs much more energy per pound. In a fuel cell, hydrogen gas from the fuel …

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