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Fuel Cells Tutorial

Key Concepts

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Example: Alkaline Fuel Cell

Alkaline fuel cells, or Bacon fuel cells, consume hydrogen gas and pure oxygen gas to produce electricity, water and heat.

Alkaline fuel cells have been used to supply electricity and drinking water onboard America′s spacecraft.

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Example: Phosphoric Acid Fuel Cell

Phosphoric acid fuel cells consume hydrogen gas and oxygen gas from air to produce electricity, water and heat.

Phosphoric acid fuel cells can be used as stationary power generators and have also been used in buses.

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Example: Direct Methanol Fuel Cell

Direct methanol fuel cells consume methanol, CH3OH, and oxygen to produce electricity, heat, carbon dioxide and water.
A proton exchange membrane is used in place of the electrolyte which allows H+ produced at the anode to migrate to the cathode.

Methanol fuel cells can be used to power mobile phones, digital cameras and laptop computers.

e-
membrane
methanol →
← oxygen
← methanol
oxygen →
CO2
H2O

anode
 
cathode
 

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Example: Direct Ethanol Fuel Cell

Direct ethanol fuel cells consume ethanol, C2H5OH, and oxygen to produce electricity, heat, carbon dioxide and water.
A proton exchange membrane is used in place of the electrolyte which allows H+ produced at the anode to migrate to the cathode.

Ethanol fuel cells could one day be used to charge appliances such as mobile phones.

e-
membrane
ethanol →
← oxygen
← ethanol
oxygen →
CO2
H2O

anode
 
cathode
 

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