Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles

Fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) are motorized by hydrogen. They are more effective than the conservative internal combustion engine vehicles and yield no harmful tailpipe exhaust. They only produce water vapor and warm air. FCEVs and the hydrogen structure to fuel them are still in an initial stage of utilization. The U.S. Department of Energy is leading government and industry struggles to create hydrogen-powered vehicles a reasonably priced, environmentally approachable and safe transportation option. Hydrogen is considered as a substitute fuel under the Energy Policy Act of 1992 and meets the requirements for alternative fuel vehicle tax recognitions.

What is a fuel cell electric vehicle?

FCEVs use a thrust system analogous to electric vehicles, where energy is kept as hydrogen converted to electricity by the fuel cell. Dissimilar to conventional internal combustion engine vehicles, they yield no harmful tailpipe emissions. Other advantages include increasing energy security and consolidation of the economy.

FCEVs are fueled with pure hydrogen gas kept in a tank on the vehicle. They yield no vehicle emissions and only emit water and heat. Parallel to conventional internal combustion engine vehicles, they can fuel in fewer than 10 minutes and have a driving range of about 300 miles. FCEVs can be furnished with other progressive technologies to upsurge efficiency, such as regenerative braking systems, which arrest the energy lost during braking and store it in a battery. Major automobile unique equipment manufacturers are proposing a limited number of production FCEVs to the public in certain marketplaces, in synchronization with what the developing infrastructure can upkeep.

How does a fuel cell make electricity from hydrogen?

What happens in a fuel cell is called an electrochemical reaction. It’s a chemical reaction, since it comprises of two chemicals joining together, but it’s an electrical reaction too as electricity is produced as the reaction goes on.

A fuel cell has three important parts like those in a battery. It has a positively charged terminal, a negatively charged terminal, and a straightening out chemical called an electrolyte in between keeping them apart. (The two terminals are the pieces of bread and the electrolyte is the ham in between.)

The complete procedure is as follows:

  1. Hydrogen gas from the tank suckles down a pipe to the positive terminal. Hydrogen is flammable and explosive, so the tank has to be tremendously robust.
  2. Oxygen from the air comes down from the second pipe to the negative terminal.
  3. The positive terminal is made of platinum, a valuable metal catalyst intend
  4. ed to hustle up the chemistry that happens in the fuel cell. When atoms of hydrogen gas reach the catalyst, they divide up into hydrogen ions (protons) and electrons (small black blobs). Hydrogen ions are just hydrogen atoms with their electrons removed. Since they have only one proton and
    one electron to start with, a hydrogen ion is the same thing as a proton.
  5. The protons, being positively charged, are involved to the negative terminal and travel through the electrolyte towards it. The electrolyte is a tiny membrane made of a different polymer (plastic film) and only the protons can permit through it.
  6. The electrons, in the meantime, flow through the outer circuit.
  7. Hence, they power the electric motor that drives the car’s wheels. Ultimately, they reach at the negative terminal too.
  8. At the negative terminal, the protons and electrons recombine with oxygen from the air in a chemical reaction that yields water.
  9. The water is left off from the exhaust pipe as water vapor or steam.

This type of fuel cell is called a PEM (polymer exchange membrane or proton exchange membrane) because it contains an exchange of protons across a polymer membrane. It’ll keep in succession for as long as there are supplies of hydrogen and oxygen. In the meantime, there’s always sufficient amount of oxygen in the air, the only restrictive aspect is how much hydrogen there is in the tank.

How do we get so much of hydrogen?

We have to make it on our own from water, since it is made partially from hydrogen. Splitting good old H2O into its parts and you get H2 (hydrogen) and O2 (oxygen). We do all of this with the help of an Electrolizer.

Working of an Electrolyzer

  1. A battery connects the positive terminal (anode) to the negative terminal (cathode) from side to side through an electrolyte. The electrolyte can be pure water. In a real electrolyzer, performance is upgraded significantly by using a solid polymer membrane as the electrolyte, which permits ions to move through it.
  2. When the power is switched on, water splits into positively charged hydrogen ions and negatively charged oxygen ions.
  3. The positive hydrogen ions are involved to the negative terminal and recombine in pairs to form hydrogen gas (H2).
  4. Similarly, the negative oxygen ions are attracted to the positive terminal and recombine in pairs there to form oxygen gas (O2).

Drawbacks while using hydrogen

But producing hydrogen by electrolysis energy—and quite a lot of it: we have to use electricity to split up water. If we use typical solar cells to provide that electricity, they might be about 10 percent efficient, while an electrolyzer might be 75 percent efficient, giving a miserable overall efficiency of just 7.5 percent. That’s quite a poor start—and it’s only the start!

We also use energy transporting hydrogen and compressing it (turning hydrogen gas into a liquid) so cars can carry sufficient of it in their tanks to go anywhere. That’s a real problem because the energy density of hydrogen is only about a fifth that of gasoline. In other words, you need five times more to go as far. Another problem is that hydrogen is difficult to store for long periods because it’s extremely tiny molecules easily leak out of most containers—and since hydrogen is flammable, leaks can cause horrific explosions.

Next, there are also the inefficiencies at the opposite end of the process, when a fuel-cell car turns hydrogen back into electricity to power the electric motors that drive its wheels.

Advantages of using Hydrogen

Hydrogen has numerous rewards over other electric-power know-hows. Where charging up a battery-powered car can take somewhere from half an hour to a whole night, you can refuel a hydrogen car in only five minutes—as quickly as you can fill the gas tank of a regular car. The driving range of battery-powered cars has also been a point of argument. Existing models claim to drive hundreds of kilometers or miles amongst charges, but the most important factor is how much power you consume for other things while driving; and range undergoes wear and tear as your battery gets older. Fuel-cell cars get the same range as everyday gas vehicles, though their performance degrades as they age. Where battery technologies possibly work best in small cars, fuel-cells are likewise good for larger vehicles and trucks.


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This article was written by Vineet and Eeshan Bashir for any correction or guest article mail us at [email protected]


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