do fuel cells work

Fuel cell - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


** Fuel cell **

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For other uses, see Fuel cell (disambiguation).
Demonstration model of a direct-methanol fuel cell. The actual fuel cell
stack is the layered cube shape in the center of the image
Scheme of a proton-conducting fuel cell

A *fuel cell* is a device that converts the chemical energy from a fuel
into electricity through a chemical reaction of positively charged hydrogen
ions with oxygen or another oxidizing agent.^[1] Fuel cells are different
from batteries in that they require a continuous source of fuel and oxygen
or air to sustain the chemical reaction, whereas in a battery the chemicals
present in the battery react with each other to generate an electromotive
force (emf). Fuel cells can produce electricity continuously for as long as
these inputs are supplied.

The first fuel cells were invented in 1838. The first commercial use of
fuel cells came more than a century later in NASA space programs to
generate power for satellites and space capsules. Since then, fuel cells
have been used in many other applications. Fuel cells are used for primary
and backup power for commercial, industrial and residential buildings and
in remote or inaccessible areas. They are also used to power fuel cell
vehicles, including forklifts, automobiles, buses, boats, motorcycles and

There are many types of fuel cells, but they all consist of an anode, a
cathode, and an electrolyte that allows positively charged hydrogen ions
(or protons) to move between the two sides of the fuel cell. The anode and
cathode contain catalysts that cause the fuel to undergo oxidation
reactions that generate positively charged hydrogen ions and electrons. The
hydrogen ions are drawn through the electrolyte after the reaction. At


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