Hydrogen Just Does It
Hydrogen Fuel Cells
How it Works
A single fuel cell is made of an electrolyte in between two electrodes, an anode and a cathode. It has bipolar plates on each side to help distribute gases and act as current collectors. In the fuel cell, hydrogen gas flows through channels to the anode. There a catalyst causes the molecules to separate into protons and electrons. The electrons flow to the cathode making electricity that can be used to power a motor.
Facts about Hydrogen Fuel Cells
Hydrogen powered fuel cells, which are pollution free, can have 2-3 times the efficiency of normal technologies. Fuel cells cleanly and quickly convert chemical energy from hydrogen rich fuels into electrical power and usable heat. In a fuel cell stack, there are no moving parts making them more reliable and quitter than generators. A fuel cell is required to last 5,000 hours or 150,000 miles before needing to be replaced.10-11 metric tons of hydrogen are made in the US each year, which powers up to 20-30 million cars per 5-8 million homes.
Where does Hydrogen come from?
Because hydrogen doesn't occur naturally on Earth, it has to be extracted from water. This is done by reforming natural gas or passing a current through water splitting it into components, hydrogen and oxygen. They are able to extract large amounts of hydrogen.
Cost of Fuel Cells
Due to the expensive price of hydrogen and producing the hydrogen, it has prevented us from the production of hydrogen powered cars. About a few years ago, hydrogen fuel cells costed around $1,000 for every kilowatt of power they generated and around $100,000 per car. In the last year, USDE reported the cost had gone down to $61 per kilowatt.
There is no hydrogen infrastructure that can transport the hydrogen from coast to coast. Along with that, they're are still doing research on how to fuel your car with hydrogen at public gas stations.