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Fuel cells. The invention of this technology has caused a great impact on various industries, as fuel cell is quiet, flexible, highly efficient and exceptionally clean.

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Fuel Cells Do you know? According to the rate of consuming the non-renewable fossil fuels such as oil, coal, and natural gases, in our earth, the reserve of such fossil fuels in the world is estimated to run out over the next 100 years. A worldwide energy crisis in the future is unavoidable if we do not develop alternative renewable energy sources in time. Upon exhaustion of fossil fuels and the search for new energy sources is fruitless, can you image what our future will be? Will our world be in total darkness? Therefore, scientists have been urged to look for alternative energy sources that are renewable. Among all the possible choices, such as solar energy, hydro-power, nuclear power, geothermal energy etc, there is a promising energy source called the fuel cell which has recently attracted the attention of people from all kinds of background. The invention of this technology has caused a great impact on various industries, as fuel cell is quiet, flexible, highly efficient and exceptionally clean. What is a fuel cell? Similar to a battery, a fuel cell is a device that converts chemical energy directly into electrical energy. However, unlike batteries, with non-stop supply of fuels, fuel cell can run forever and produce steady supply of electrical energy. ...read more.


A reformer is therefore not essential in this fuel cell system to reform complex hydrocarbons into pure hydrogen. Several companies around the world are presently working on DMFC to power electronic equipments. The DMFC appears to be the most promising alternative electric source to replace the battery used in portable electronics such as mobile phones and laptop computers. Why are fuel cells being developed so fast? With the ever increasing world consumption of fossil fuels, sooner or later the reserve of fossil fuels will be used up. We should look for a renewable energy source to resolve this problem. Besides, the burning of fossil fuels has caused serious environmental problems such as air pollution, oil spillage and global warming. Using fuel cells to replace fossil fuels as our primary energy source can solve these problems because fuel cells: * are clean energy source * have high efficiency, 40-50% of the chemical energy being converted to electrical energy * use a variety of fuels e.g. hydrogen or natural gas or methanol or hydrocarbons * are reliable, maintainable and durable What are the applications of fuel cells? Space Exploration In the late 1950's, NASA began experiments with the fuel cell technology to develop power source required for space travel. ...read more.


To be successful in the marketplace, fuel cells have to attain a number of requirements. Firstly, its cost of investments must not be too high. According to a report, current fuel cell power plants cost about $3000/kW. Therefore, to increase the competitiveness of the fuel cells in the market, it is necessary for this price to be reduced to $1500/kW or less in order to fit in the utility and commercial on-site market. Secondly, better designs including size and weight are essential to fit the actual market needs. Other factors, such as efficiency, high power output, ease of use and maintenance etc, are also important. Questions 1. What are the major differences between a fuel cell and a conventional electrochemical cell like a zinc-carbon cell? 2. Outline the advantages that would be gained by generating electricity in fuel cells rather than in the thermal power stations used at present. 3. What are the advantages and disadvantages of using fuel cells in portable electronic devices? 4. Write half-equations for the reactions that would occur at the anode and cathode in a Direct Methanol Fuel Cell. Use these half-equations to produce an overall equation showing the net reaction occurring in the cell. 5. Electrical power for space shuttles is provided by fuel cells for about forty years. Write a pr�cis on the fuel cells used and their future development. ...read more.

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