The purpose of this paper is to inform you why fuel cells are a good source ofenergy. In principle a fuel cell operates like a battery. Unlike batteries fuel cells don’trun down or require recharging. In the first section the energy source will be definedand described. The three sub-sections are; how they work, current us, and the future offuel cells. In the second section the two criteria chosen will be defined. The two criteriaare environmental friendliness and reliability. In the third and final section the twochosen criteria will be applied to the energy source.
To understand fuel cells you need toknow how they work. You also need to know the current use and development. Althoughno one can tell the future of fuel cells, you can tell what direction they are headed. Environmental friendliness is a good piece of criterion to use when analyzing an energysource. Fuel cells are environmentally friendly because their only waste product iswater. Reliability is also a good piece of criterion to use when evaluating an energysource.
Fuel cells are reliable because they run on hydrogen and we will have hydrogenWhat would the world be like without electricity? If you really think about it youwill find that many of the everyday things we do would be impossible. You would not beable to eat many foods without cooking them over some kind of flame. You would haveabsolutely no luxuries such as TVs, computers, cars, and many other things that useelectricity. This could be reality someday if something is not done to find an alternative toour traditional methods of burning coal and oil. Someday these resources will run out andwe will be stuck without electricity. This is why we should invest our time, money, andresearch into the production of fuel cells. Fuel cells are a good energy source becausethey are environmentally friendly and reliable despite being expensive. In principle a fuel cell operate like a battery. Unlike batteries fuel cells don’t rundown or require recharging. It will produce energy in the form of electricity as long asfuel is supplied(Little, Authur). The main fuel of the cells is liquid hydrogen. On March17,1999, DaimlerChrysler unveiled the NECAR 4, the first fuel powered car. Thecompact car seats five passengers. Although DaimlerChrysler claims to lead the fuel cellcar industry, Ford Motor co. officials say they will have a driveable version of their fiveseat compact car, the P2000, this spring. In the first section the energy source will be defined and described. The threesub-sections are; how they work, current us, and the future of fuel cells. In the secondsection the two criteria chosen will be defined. The two criteria are environmentalfriendliness and reliability. In the third and final section the two chosen criteria will beTo understand fuel cells you need to know how they work, how they are beingused today, and how they will be used in the future. In principle, a fuel cell operates like a battery. Unlike a battery, a fuel cell does notrun down or require recharging. It will produce energy in the form of electricity and heatas long as fuel is supplied. A fuel cell consists of two electrodes sandwiched around anelectrolyte. Oxygen passes over one electrode and hydrogen over the other, generatingelectricity, water, and heat. Hydrogen fuel is fed into the “anode” of the fuel cell. Oxygen(or air) enters the fuel cell through the cathode. Encouraged by a catalyst, the hydrogenatom splits into a proton and an electron, which take different paths to the cathode. Theproton passes through the electrolyte. The electrons create a separate current that can beutilized before they return to the cathode, to be reunited with the hydrogen and oxygen ina molecule of water (Little,Aurthur).
To understand fuel cells you need the current use and development. On March 17,1999, DaimlerChrysler unveiled the NECAR 4, the first fuel cell powered car. Thecompact car seats five passengers. Although DaimlerChrysler claims to lead the fuel cellpassenger car companies, who aims to market them by the year 2004, Ford Motor Co.
officials said they expect to have a driveable version of their five-seat fuel cell car, theFerdinand Panik, head of DaimlerChrysler’s fuel cell program, said the NECAR 4was a breakthrough because the fuel cell technology was small enough to fit into acompact car but there was still room to seat five passengers. The fuel cells were stackedunderneath the car’s floor board and the liquid hydrogen tank took up some space in it’sThe car drives like a normal car, has a top speed of 90 miles per hour and can go280 miles without refueling. It weighs 1,100 pounds more than a typical compactgasoline-powered car because of the fuel dell technology. Right now, ONSI Corporation in Windsor, Conn., a subsidiary of InternationalFuel Cells, is the only commercial manufacturer of fuel cells. Seventy-four of its units,each the size of a minivan, are now in operation, often in locations such as hospitals andremote hotels where grid power is expensive and reliability is worth a premium. Each cellproduces 200 kilowatts of power; the heat each produces can also be used to warmbuildings, an approach known as cogeneration. ONSI’s marketing manager, Gregory J.
Sandelli, states that in 1.25 million hours of total use, his company’s cells have remained inoperation 95 percent of the time–a figure that bests on-site, diesel-powered generators. The units, which use phosphoric acid as an electrolyte, are designed to last twenty yearsPhosphoric acid-based cells tend to be heavy, which makes them less ideal for usein vehicles. Other companies are developing cells that are specifically designed for thatpurpose. Ballard Power Systems in Vancouver, BC, has for several years been developinga lightweight fuel cell, the “proton-exchange membrane” (PEM) type. In place ofphosphoric acid, PEM cells employ a thin polymer membrane as their electrolyte. By mid-1997, Ballard planned to launch a pilot fleets of a fuel cell-powered passenger buses inVancouver and Chicago. The U.S. Department of Transportation is also developing fuelWhen portability is not an issue, as it is not for municipal utilities, otherpossibilities open up. “Molten carbonate” and “solid oxide” fuel cell technologies, forinstance, could bring extraordinary efficiencies to power-generating stations. Thesedevices run at far higher temperatures than PEM or phosphoric acid cells. Moltencarbonate and solid oxide cells might be able to achieve an impressive efficiencies of 55percent or more, according to Robert R. Rose of Fuel Cells 2000, an advocacy group. The hot steam and carbon dioxide they produce can be used to drive a gas turbine thatgenerates additional electricity, an approach that could push their efficiency to an unheard-of 80 percent. They are potentially up to twice as efficient as a typical oil or coal-firedEnergy Research Corporation (ERC) in Danbury, Conn., has built a two-megawattpilot molten carbonate plant for the municipality of Santa Clara, Calif. The fuel cells run atabout 650 degrees Celsius (1,200 Fahrenheit) and consume hydrocarbon fuel that is re-formed into hydrogen right inside the cells. Problems with electrical shorts within the cellshave restricted the plant’s output so far to about one megawatt. As the ERC’s William V.
Baker is at pains to point out, however, that still makes the Santa Clara plant the highest-powered fuel cell unit in the U.S. The company is currently developing a modified designrated at 2.85 megawatts (Scientific America).
Although no one can tell the future of fuel cells, you can tell what direction theyare headed. DaimlerChrysler plans to market their fuel cell cars by the year 2004. Engineers plan to take off 660 pounds of the engine weight before marketing to the public. Ford says they will unveil a fuel cell car this spring. Other automakers such as GeneralMotors Corp. and Honda Motor Co. are pouring in hundreds of millions of dollars into thefuel cell car industry. (Associated Press) Companies are developing solid-oxide fuel cells. DaimlerChrysler officials are working on NECAR X, which will run on methanol. Methanol contains hydrogen and is the auto industry’s favored fuel to power fuel cells. However, methanol-fueled cars would require a national network of methanol stations.
To understand fuel cells you need to know how they work, how they are beingused today, and how they will be used in the future. When evaluating an energy source two good criteria to use are environmentalEnvironmental friendliness is a good piece of criterion to use when evaluating anenergy source. Environmental friendliness is how much the resource affects theenvironment. Environmental impact is very important because if you don’t respect theearth now you won’t have any resources later. Without natural resources we won’t be ableto live. If we keep letting carbon dioxide go into the atmosphere and kill trees and otherplants we will die of carbon dioxide poison. We will also continue global warming.Electricity is a good example of environmental friendliness because it doesn’t have anyReliability is a good criterion to use when evaluating an energy source.Reliabilityis how well you can depend or trust something. Reliability is very important because it isoften in crisis or when we need something the most that it is unavailable or doesn’t work. In an emergency situation reliability is very important because it can save lives. Whenyour power goes out you want a reliable flashlight, or when your driving down a desertedhighway you want reliable tires so you don’t get a flat. Therefore reliability is a veryimportant criterion to use when analyzing an energy source. Solar power is reliablebecause the sun comes up every day. It is a fact that sun will come up everyday. These two criteria are very important when evaluating an energy source.In this section you will be told how the criteria apply to the energy source. Fuelcells are a good energy source because they are environmentally friendly and very reliableFuel cells are environmentally friendly because their waste product is a little heatand water vapor. This shows environmental friendliness because they do not pollute theearth. By not polluting they don’t kill plants, which supply people with oxygen. If youtake care of the environment now it will help you later. Fuel cells are environmentallyfriendly because if just 20 percent of cars used fuel cells, we would cut oil imports by 1.5million barrels of oil every day. (Fuel Cells 2000) By cutting that many barrels of oil everyday you would not only save enormous amounts of oil, you would also help theenvironment. By not burning 1.5 million barrels of oil you would not harm theenvironment as much. Big cities would have much less smog if fuel cell-powered carswere used. The U.S. Department of Energy projects that if a mere 10 percent ofautomobiles were powered by fuel cells, regulated air pollutants would be cut by onemillion tons per year and 60 million tons of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide would beeliminated. (Fuel Cells 2000)This shows that fuel cells are environmentally friendlybecause they would eliminate 60 million tons of harmful gas. Without that harmful gasplants will live longer, supplying people with cleaner air. If we invest our time and moneyin these great machines they will provide us with a very environmentally safe form ofFuel cells are reliable because they run on hydrogen and we will have hydrogenforever. By never running out of hydrogen fuel cells are the perfect energy source. Fuelcells are very reliable because they will always have fuel to run on. Fuel cells are veryreliable because they have no moving parts, which decreases the chances of parts breaking. In cars, fuel cells can go 280 miles without refueling. This shows their reliability becausethey can go a long way without having to worry about refueling. The less fueling youhave to do makes the car more reliable.
This shows why fuel cells are environmentally friendly and reliable. Fuel cells are a good energy source because they are environmentally friendly andreliable despite being expensive. You might be saying to yourself ” So what?”. If wedon’t find an energy source that we can use in the future when we run out of coal to burn. One day one of our most treasured luxuries, electricity, could be gone if we don’t developa new way to produce it. Fuel cells are the perfect source from which to produceelectricity because they will always run when there is fuel, they don’t pollute, they have nomoving parts, they don’t make noise, and they are built to last twenty years. Fuel cellspower plants have an efficiency rate of 80 percent. They are twice as efficient as a typicaloil or coal fired plant. If we keep the planet free of destructive exhaust fumes, whichcause ozone depletion, we would have cleaner air to breathe. We also wouldn’t have toworry about oil tankers spilling millions of gallons of oil in the oceans, causing harm anddeath to millions of ocean plants and fish. If we take care of the earth now, we will havemore natural resources such as trees, water, and animals, later. If we find ways toconserve oil and coal now we will be able to ration it out for a very long time but if wedon’t find alternative methods of getting energy we will run out of these highly consumedBibliography:Works CitedBALLARD. “Internal Combustion Engines.” 10/98 : 69Bessman, Ted. “Cheaper Fuel Cells?” MIT’S Technology Review Nov./ Dec.98: 21Hawkes, Nigel. New Technology Energy. Twenty-First Century Books: 1994Little, Aurthur D. “Benefits of Fuel Cells” Fuel Cells 2000. Sept.1993Scientific America: Explorations. 12/96
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