Hydrogen Fuel Cell: Features, Working and Applications

Alan   utmel.com   2021-10-21 17:40:49

Catalog

Ⅰ Working principle of hydrogen fuel cell
Ⅱ Features of hydrogen fuel cell
Ⅲ Difference from other batteries
Ⅳ Applications of hydrogen fuel cell
Ⅴ Development of hydrogen fuel cell


Ⅰ Working principle of hydrogen fuel cell

A hydrogen fuel cell is a kind of power generation device, but it is not like a normal non-rechargeable battery which is discarded when it is used up, nor is it like a rechargeable battery, which must continue to be charged when used up. The fuel cell, as its name suggests, is to continue to add fuel to maintain its electricity. The fuel required is "hydrogen", and this is why it is classified as a new energy source.

Hydrogen fuel battery electric heap structure.jpg

Hydrogen fuel battery electric heap structure

The operating principle of the fuel cell is that the battery contains two electrodes, anode and cathode, respectively filled with electrolyte, and the two electrodes are formed by a permeable membrane. Hydrogen enters the anode of the fuel cell, and oxygen (or air) enters the fuel cell from the cathode. Through the action of the catalyst, the hydrogen molecule at the anode is decomposed into two protons and two electrons. The protons are attracted by oxygen to the other side of the film, and the electrons form a current through the external circuit and reach the cathode. Under the action of the cathode catalyst, protons, oxygen and electrons react to form water molecules. Therefore, water can be said to be the only emissions from fuel cells. 

Hydrogen fuel cell reaction.jpg

Hydrogen fuel cell reaction

The "hydrogen" fuel used in fuel cells can come from the hydrogen produced by the electrolysis of water and any hydrocarbons, such as natural gas, methanol, ethanol (alcohol), biogas, and so on. Since the hydrogen fuel cell generates electricity and water through the chemical reaction of hydrogen and oxygen, it is not only completely pollution-free, but also avoids the time-consuming problem of traditional battery charging. It is currently the most promising new energy method. If it can be popularized and applied to vehicles and other high-polluting power generation tools, it will significantly reduce air pollution and the greenhouse effect.

Ⅱ Features of hydrogen fuel cell

1.No pollution

The fuel cell does not pollute the environment. The use of combustion (gasoline, diesel) or energy storage (battery) will release pollutants such as COx, NOx, SOx gas and dust. Hydrogen fuel cells use electrochemical reactions and only produce water and heat. If hydrogen is produced by renewable energy sources (photovoltaic panels, wind power generation, etc.), the entire cycle is a process that completely does not produce harmful emissions.

2.No noise

The fuel cell runs quietly, and the noise is only about 55dB, which is equivalent to the level of people's normal conversation. This makes the fuel cell suitable for indoor installation, or in places where noise is restricted outdoors.

3.High efficiency

The power generation efficiency of fuel cells can reach more than 50%, which is determined by the conversion properties of fuel cells. It directly converts chemical energy into electrical energy, without the need for an intermediate transformation between thermal energy and mechanical energy (generator).

Ⅲ Difference from other batteries

1. Dry batteries and accumulators are energy storage devices that store electrical energy and release it when needed. The hydrogen fuel cell is strictly a power generation device, like a power plant. It is an electrochemical power generation device that directly converts chemical energy into electrical energy. In addition, the electrodes of hydrogen fuel cells are made of special porous materials, which is a key technology of hydrogen fuel cells. It not only provides a larger contact surface for the gas and electrolyte, but also catalyzes the chemical reaction of the battery.

2. Once the technical performance of the fuel cell is determined, the electrical energy it can generate is only related to the supply of fuel. As long as fuel is supplied, electrical energy can be generated, and its discharge characteristics are continuous. After the technical performance of an ordinary battery is determined, it can only output electrical energy within its rated range, and it must be recharged before it can be reused, and its discharge characteristics are intermittent.

3. The mass and volume of the fuel cell body are not large, but the fuel cell requires a set of fuel storage device or fuel conversion device and auxiliary equipment to obtain hydrogen. The mass and volume of these fuel storage devices or fuel conversion devices and ancillary equipment far exceed the fuel cell itself. During the working process, the fuel will gradually be consumed as the fuel cell electricity is produced, and the quality will gradually decrease (referring to the limited fuel on-board). Ordinary storage batteries have no other auxiliary equipment. After the technical performance is determined, the quality and volume of the storage batteries remain basically unchanged regardless of whether they are fully charged or discharged.

4. Fuel cells convert chemical energy into electrical energy, and ordinary batteries also convert chemical energy into electrical energy. This is what they have in common. However, when the fuel cell generates electricity, the reacting substances participating in the reaction are continuously consumed and no longer reused after the reaction. Therefore, it is required to continuously input the reaction substance. The active material of an ordinary battery changes with the charge and discharge of the battery, and the active material repeatedly undergoes reversible chemical changes. The active material is not consumed, only some electrolyte and other substances need to be added.

Ⅳ Applications of hydrogen fuel cell

1.Aerospace

In the 1960s, hydrogen fuel cells have been successfully applied in the aerospace field. The "Apollo" spacecraft that travels between space and the Earth is equipped with such a small and large-capacity device. After entering the 1970s, as people continued to master a variety of advanced hydrogen production technologies, hydrogen fuel cells were soon used in power generation and automobiles.

Large-scale power stations, whether hydropower, thermal power or nuclear power, send the generated electricity to the power grid, and the power grid delivers it to users. However, due to the different loads of different power users, the power grid sometimes presents a peak and sometimes a trough, which will lead to power outages or voltage instability. In addition, about 70% of the combustion energy of traditional thermal power plants is consumed in huge equipment such as boilers and steam turbine generators, and it consumes a lot of energy and emits a lot of harmful substances during combustion. The use of hydrogen fuel cell power generation is to directly convert the chemical energy of the fuel into electrical energy without burning. The energy conversion rate can reach 60% to 80%, and it has low pollution and low noise.

The chemical properties of hydrogen are active, and it can be combined with many metals or alloys. After some metals or alloys absorb hydrogen, a metal hydride is formed. Some of the metal hydrides have a high hydrogen content, even higher than the density of liquid hydrogen. The metal hydride will decompose under certain temperature conditions, and the absorbed hydrogen is released, which constitutes a good hydrogen storage material.

2.Automotive

Hydrogen fuel cell cars use hydrogen as an energy source and produce water through the chemical reaction of hydrogen, thus realizing zero pollution. Hydrogen fuel cell cars can run more than 300 kilometers per hour with a single hydrogen addition, and the speed can reach 140-150 kilometers per hour. Hydrogen fuel cell cars are more than 200 kilograms heavier than diesel locomotives of the same type, which is more than 5 times more expensive.

Hydrogen fuel cell car.jpg

Hydrogen fuel cell car

The electricity generated by the fuel cell is supplied to the electric motor through inverters, controllers and other devices, and then the wheels are driven to rotate through the transmission system, drive axle, etc., so that the vehicle can drive on the road. Compared with traditional vehicles, the energy conversion efficiency of fuel cell vehicles is as high as 60 to 80%, which is 2 to 3 times that of internal combustion engines. The fuel of the fuel cell is hydrogen and oxygen, and the product is clean water. It does not produce carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, nor does it emit sulfur and particulates. Therefore, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are truly zero-emission and zero-pollution vehicles.

The advantages of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are undoubted, and the disadvantages are obvious. With the advancement of technology, issues such as safety and hydrogen fuel storage technology that have plagued the development of hydrogen fuel cells have been gradually overcome and continuously improved. However, the cost issue is still the biggest bottleneck hindering the development of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. The cost of a hydrogen fuel cell is 100 times that of an ordinary gasoline engine, and this price is unbearable by the market.

3.Aircraft

Boeing successfully tested a small aircraft powered by hydrogen fuel cells on April 3, 2008. Boeing said this is the first time in the history of world aviation, indicating that the aviation industry will be more environmentally friendly in the future. But Boeing admits that this technology is unlikely to provide the main power for large passenger aircraft.

Boeing conducted three test flights of hydrogen fuel cell aircraft in Ocana, Spain from February to March 2008. The successful test flights are of historical significance. The take-off and climb process of small airplanes uses hybrid electricity provided by traditional batteries and hydrogen fuel cells. After climbing to a cruising altitude of 1,000 meters above sea level, the aircraft cut off the traditional battery power supply and relied only on hydrogen fuel cells to provide power. The plane flew at an altitude of 1,000 meters for about 20 minutes at a speed of about 100 kilometers per hour. This technology is of great significance to Boeing, and it also makes the future of the aviation industry "full of green hope."

In the context of rising fuel prices, environmental pollution and global warming, the demand for cleaner, safer, and more efficient vehicles is growing rapidly. Promoting the use of hydrogen and hydrogen fuel cells can reduce the energy consumption of oil, natural gas, and coal that can generate greenhouse gases.

Boeing’s hydrogen fuel cell aircraft has brought technological breakthroughs, but Boeing (Europe) Research and Technology Director Escati said that hydrogen fuel cells can provide flight power for small aircraft, but cannot provide the main power for large passenger aircraft.

Ⅴ Development of hydrogen fuel cell

According to the International Energy Storage Summit, as a truly "zero-emission" clean energy source, the application of hydrogen fuel cells in developed countries is accelerating. By 2020, Japan has been built into 142 hydrogen refueling stations. The EU has passed the project to increase fuel cell buses. Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles developed by many auto companies have begun mass production. This shows that fuel cells have truly moved from the laboratory to industrialization, and compared with lithium batteries, it has the advantage of zero pollution.

The U.S. Department of Energy stated to the outside that South Korean automaker Hyundai Motor, German automaker Mercedes-Benz, Japanese automakers Nissan Motor and Toyota Motor have reached an agreement with the department to prepare for the launch of the first round of hydrogen-powered vehicles.

At the European level, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, France, the United Kingdom and Germany have reached an agreement to jointly develop and promote hydrogen energy vehicles. All countries will jointly build a European hydrogen facility network and coordinate energy transmission.

The British government has proposed that it will vigorously develop hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. It plans to have 1.6 million hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in the UK by 2030, and its market share will reach 30%-50% by 2050.

China's first hydrogen fuel cell electric locomotive was successfully developed in four years and can be used in industrial fields, such as mining tractors. On June 30, 2010, China's self-developed perfluorinated ion membranes for chlor-alkali and fuel cell membranes were made domestically. At the same time, a production facility with an annual output of 500 tons for the production of sulfonic acid resin ion membranes, the core material of fuel cells, has been completed and put into production, which has solved the major bottleneck in the production of hydrogen fuel cells. By 2020, China has been built into 69 hydrogen refueling stations.

The "High Energy Hydrogen Fuel Cell" jointly developed by Japanese electronic parts supplier Roma, Aqua Fairy and Kyoto University. This new type of battery generates electricity through a chemical reaction between calcium hydride and water. A fuel cell with a volume of less than 3 cubic centimeters can generate 5 watt-hours of electricity. It can be widely used in a variety of electronic devices including smart phones, or to provide backup power supply in emergency situations.

Catalog

Ⅰ Working principle of hydrogen fuel cell
Ⅱ Features of hydrogen fuel cell
Ⅲ Difference from other batteries
Ⅳ Applications of hydrogen fuel cell
Ⅴ Development of hydrogen fuel cell


Ⅰ Working principle of hydrogen fuel cell

A hydrogen fuel cell is a kind of power generation device, but it is not like a normal non-rechargeable battery which is discarded when it is used up, nor is it like a rechargeable battery, which must continue to be charged when used up. The fuel cell, as its name suggests, is to continue to add fuel to maintain its electricity. The fuel required is "hydrogen", and this is why it is classified as a new energy source.

Hydrogen fuel battery electric heap structure.jpg

Hydrogen fuel battery electric heap structure

The operating principle of the fuel cell is that the battery contains two electrodes, anode and cathode, respectively filled with electrolyte, and the two electrodes are formed by a permeable membrane. Hydrogen enters the anode of the fuel cell, and oxygen (or air) enters the fuel cell from the cathode. Through the action of the catalyst, the hydrogen molecule at the anode is decomposed into two protons and two electrons. The protons are attracted by oxygen to the other side of the film, and the electrons form a current through the external circuit and reach the cathode. Under the action of the cathode catalyst, protons, oxygen and electrons react to form water molecules. Therefore, water can be said to be the only emissions from fuel cells. 

Hydrogen fuel cell reaction.jpg

Hydrogen fuel cell reaction

The "hydrogen" fuel used in fuel cells can come from the hydrogen produced by the electrolysis of water and any hydrocarbons, such as natural gas, methanol, ethanol (alcohol), biogas, and so on. Since the hydrogen fuel cell generates electricity and water through the chemical reaction of hydrogen and oxygen, it is not only completely pollution-free, but also avoids the time-consuming problem of traditional battery charging. It is currently the most promising new energy method. If it can be popularized and applied to vehicles and other high-polluting power generation tools, it will significantly reduce air pollution and the greenhouse effect.

Ⅱ Features of hydrogen fuel cell

1.No pollution

The fuel cell does not pollute the environment. The use of combustion (gasoline, diesel) or energy storage (battery) will release pollutants such as COx, NOx, SOx gas and dust. Hydrogen fuel cells use electrochemical reactions and only produce water and heat. If hydrogen is produced by renewable energy sources (photovoltaic panels, wind power generation, etc.), the entire cycle is a process that completely does not produce harmful emissions.

2.No noise

The fuel cell runs quietly, and the noise is only about 55dB, which is equivalent to the level of people's normal conversation. This makes the fuel cell suitable for indoor installation, or in places where noise is restricted outdoors.

3.High efficiency

The power generation efficiency of fuel cells can reach more than 50%, which is determined by the conversion properties of fuel cells. It directly converts chemical energy into electrical energy, without the need for an intermediate transformation between thermal energy and mechanical energy (generator).

Ⅲ Difference from other batteries

1. Dry batteries and accumulators are energy storage devices that store electrical energy and release it when needed. The hydrogen fuel cell is strictly a power generation device, like a power plant. It is an electrochemical power generation device that directly converts chemical energy into electrical energy. In addition, the electrodes of hydrogen fuel cells are made of special porous materials, which is a key technology of hydrogen fuel cells. It not only provides a larger contact surface for the gas and electrolyte, but also catalyzes the chemical reaction of the battery.

2. Once the technical performance of the fuel cell is determined, the electrical energy it can generate is only related to the supply of fuel. As long as fuel is supplied, electrical energy can be generated, and its discharge characteristics are continuous. After the technical performance of an ordinary battery is determined, it can only output electrical energy within its rated range, and it must be recharged before it can be reused, and its discharge characteristics are intermittent.

3. The mass and volume of the fuel cell body are not large, but the fuel cell requires a set of fuel storage device or fuel conversion device and auxiliary equipment to obtain hydrogen. The mass and volume of these fuel storage devices or fuel conversion devices and ancillary equipment far exceed the fuel cell itself. During the working process, the fuel will gradually be consumed as the fuel cell electricity is produced, and the quality will gradually decrease (referring to the limited fuel on-board). Ordinary storage batteries have no other auxiliary equipment. After the technical performance is determined, the quality and volume of the storage batteries remain basically unchanged regardless of whether they are fully charged or discharged.

4. Fuel cells convert chemical energy into electrical energy, and ordinary batteries also convert chemical energy into electrical energy. This is what they have in common. However, when the fuel cell generates electricity, the reacting substances participating in the reaction are continuously consumed and no longer reused after the reaction. Therefore, it is required to continuously input the reaction substance. The active material of an ordinary battery changes with the charge and discharge of the battery, and the active material repeatedly undergoes reversible chemical changes. The active material is not consumed, only some electrolyte and other substances need to be added.

Ⅳ Applications of hydrogen fuel cell

1.Aerospace

In the 1960s, hydrogen fuel cells have been successfully applied in the aerospace field. The "Apollo" spacecraft that travels between space and the Earth is equipped with such a small and large-capacity device. After entering the 1970s, as people continued to master a variety of advanced hydrogen production technologies, hydrogen fuel cells were soon used in power generation and automobiles.

Large-scale power stations, whether hydropower, thermal power or nuclear power, send the generated electricity to the power grid, and the power grid delivers it to users. However, due to the different loads of different power users, the power grid sometimes presents a peak and sometimes a trough, which will lead to power outages or voltage instability. In addition, about 70% of the combustion energy of traditional thermal power plants is consumed in huge equipment such as boilers and steam turbine generators, and it consumes a lot of energy and emits a lot of harmful substances during combustion. The use of hydrogen fuel cell power generation is to directly convert the chemical energy of the fuel into electrical energy without burning. The energy conversion rate can reach 60% to 80%, and it has low pollution and low noise.

The chemical properties of hydrogen are active, and it can be combined with many metals or alloys. After some metals or alloys absorb hydrogen, a metal hydride is formed. Some of the metal hydrides have a high hydrogen content, even higher than the density of liquid hydrogen. The metal hydride will decompose under certain temperature conditions, and the absorbed hydrogen is released, which constitutes a good hydrogen storage material.

2.Automotive

Hydrogen fuel cell cars use hydrogen as an energy source and produce water through the chemical reaction of hydrogen, thus realizing zero pollution. Hydrogen fuel cell cars can run more than 300 kilometers per hour with a single hydrogen addition, and the speed can reach 140-150 kilometers per hour. Hydrogen fuel cell cars are more than 200 kilograms heavier than diesel locomotives of the same type, which is more than 5 times more expensive.

Hydrogen fuel cell car.jpg

Hydrogen fuel cell car

The electricity generated by the fuel cell is supplied to the electric motor through inverters, controllers and other devices, and then the wheels are driven to rotate through the transmission system, drive axle, etc., so that the vehicle can drive on the road. Compared with traditional vehicles, the energy conversion efficiency of fuel cell vehicles is as high as 60 to 80%, which is 2 to 3 times that of internal combustion engines. The fuel of the fuel cell is hydrogen and oxygen, and the product is clean water. It does not produce carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, nor does it emit sulfur and particulates. Therefore, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are truly zero-emission and zero-pollution vehicles.

The advantages of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are undoubted, and the disadvantages are obvious. With the advancement of technology, issues such as safety and hydrogen fuel storage technology that have plagued the development of hydrogen fuel cells have been gradually overcome and continuously improved. However, the cost issue is still the biggest bottleneck hindering the development of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. The cost of a hydrogen fuel cell is 100 times that of an ordinary gasoline engine, and this price is unbearable by the market.

3.Aircraft

Boeing successfully tested a small aircraft powered by hydrogen fuel cells on April 3, 2008. Boeing said this is the first time in the history of world aviation, indicating that the aviation industry will be more environmentally friendly in the future. But Boeing admits that this technology is unlikely to provide the main power for large passenger aircraft.

Boeing conducted three test flights of hydrogen fuel cell aircraft in Ocana, Spain from February to March 2008. The successful test flights are of historical significance. The take-off and climb process of small airplanes uses hybrid electricity provided by traditional batteries and hydrogen fuel cells. After climbing to a cruising altitude of 1,000 meters above sea level, the aircraft cut off the traditional battery power supply and relied only on hydrogen fuel cells to provide power. The plane flew at an altitude of 1,000 meters for about 20 minutes at a speed of about 100 kilometers per hour. This technology is of great significance to Boeing, and it also makes the future of the aviation industry "full of green hope."

In the context of rising fuel prices, environmental pollution and global warming, the demand for cleaner, safer, and more efficient vehicles is growing rapidly. Promoting the use of hydrogen and hydrogen fuel cells can reduce the energy consumption of oil, natural gas, and coal that can generate greenhouse gases.

Boeing’s hydrogen fuel cell aircraft has brought technological breakthroughs, but Boeing (Europe) Research and Technology Director Escati said that hydrogen fuel cells can provide flight power for small aircraft, but cannot provide the main power for large passenger aircraft.

Ⅴ Development of hydrogen fuel cell

According to the International Energy Storage Summit, as a truly "zero-emission" clean energy source, the application of hydrogen fuel cells in developed countries is accelerating. By 2020, Japan has been built into 142 hydrogen refueling stations. The EU has passed the project to increase fuel cell buses. Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles developed by many auto companies have begun mass production. This shows that fuel cells have truly moved from the laboratory to industrialization, and compared with lithium batteries, it has the advantage of zero pollution.

The U.S. Department of Energy stated to the outside that South Korean automaker Hyundai Motor, German automaker Mercedes-Benz, Japanese automakers Nissan Motor and Toyota Motor have reached an agreement with the department to prepare for the launch of the first round of hydrogen-powered vehicles.

At the European level, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, France, the United Kingdom and Germany have reached an agreement to jointly develop and promote hydrogen energy vehicles. All countries will jointly build a European hydrogen facility network and coordinate energy transmission.

The British government has proposed that it will vigorously develop hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. It plans to have 1.6 million hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in the UK by 2030, and its market share will reach 30%-50% by 2050.

China's first hydrogen fuel cell electric locomotive was successfully developed in four years and can be used in industrial fields, such as mining tractors. On June 30, 2010, China's self-developed perfluorinated ion membranes for chlor-alkali and fuel cell membranes were made domestically. At the same time, a production facility with an annual output of 500 tons for the production of sulfonic acid resin ion membranes, the core material of fuel cells, has been completed and put into production, which has solved the major bottleneck in the production of hydrogen fuel cells. By 2020, China has been built into 69 hydrogen refueling stations.

The "High Energy Hydrogen Fuel Cell" jointly developed by Japanese electronic parts supplier Roma, Aqua Fairy and Kyoto University. This new type of battery generates electricity through a chemical reaction between calcium hydride and water. A fuel cell with a volume of less than 3 cubic centimeters can generate 5 watt-hours of electricity. It can be widely used in a variety of electronic devices including smart phones, or to provide backup power supply in emergency situations.

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