Fuel Cell Cars


Fuel Cell



The principle of fuel cells was developed by Welsh chemist William Grove in 1839. However in the year 1960 fuel cells were used to generate electricity for the first time by the National Space and Aeronautics Academy to furnish power to its Gemini and Apollo space crafts. Till today NASA uses fuel cells to provide electricity and water to its space shuttles.

Fuel Cell Cars

Fuel cells are electro-chemical devices that convert the energy stored in chemical form directly into electrical energy, water and heat. A fuel cell is very similar to a battery however, unlike a battery; a fuel cell does not run down or require recharging while providing electricity, as long as fuel is continuously being supplied to it. Fuel cells are not limited by the laws of thermodynamics which means that they can achieve higher conversion efficiencies than most conventional engines that manage to convert only 20 - 25% of the fuels energy whereas fuel cells can convert up to 60% of the fuels energy if fuel and oxygen are continuously supplied to the engine.

The fuel that is most favorable to fuel cells is hydrogen because of the ease with which hydrogen can form ions. The gas is highly combustible and offers high energy content. Overall hydrogen could turn out to be a potential green car fuel. Fuel cells can run effortlessly on pure hydrogen.

Fuel cells are also termed as being environment friendly because they use clean ways to convert chemical energy directly to electricity. They specifically transform hydrogen and oxygen into electric power emitting water vapor as the only waste product.

Fuel cell cars need fuel provided by an external tank, like a gas engine, which is fitted externally to the engine of the car. Facing exhaustion in the oil reserves and growing pollution levels, car companies are investing substantial amounts to research the viability of fuel cell electric vehicles.

Types of Fuel Cells used in cars



Hydrogen Propulsion: It is a very affective and efficient fuel cell and saves up to 40- 60% of fuel. The cell produces oxygen and Hydrogen commonly known as brown gas and creates one liter of gas every 4 minutes. It is a small cylindrical device which can be fitted around the engine easily.

Phosphoric Acid: It is the most commercially developed fuel cell today. Being used largely in airport terminals, buses and cars the Phosphoric acid fuel cell generates fuel efficiency up to 40%. If the steam produced is captured and used for heating, the efficiency jumps to nearly 85%.

Advantages of fuel cell cars



  • They are soundless that is there is no noise pollution created by them

  • They emit only water as compared to the conventional engines that emit dangerous greenhouse gases.

  • They extract energy from fuel more efficiently

  • They can run on pure hydrogen



Last Updated on 1/9/2012