The Hydrogen Cell

  • A fuel cell is an electrochemical cell in which a fuel donates electrons at one electrode and oxygen gains electrons at the other electrode.
  • These cells are becoming more common in the automotive industry to replace petrol or diesel engines.
  • As the fuel enters the cell it becomes oxidised which sets up a potential difference or voltage within the cell.
  • Different electrolytes and fuels can be used to set up different types of fuel cells.
  • An important cell is the hydrogen-oxygen fuel cell which combines both elements to release energy and water.

Hydrogen-oxygen fuel cell, IGCSE & GCSE Chemistry revision notes

Diagram showing the movement of hydrogen, oxygen and electrons in a Hydrogen-Oxygen fuel cell

Evaluating the Hydrogen Cell

Advantages

  • They do not produce any pollution.
  • They produce more energy per kilogram than either petrol or diesel.
  • No power is lost in transmission as there is much less moving parts than in an internal combustion engine.
  • No batteries to dispose of which is better for the environment.
  • Continuous process and will keep producing energy as long as fuel is supplied.

Disadvantages

  • Materials used in producing fuel cells are expensive.
  • High pressure tanks are needed to store the oxygen and hydrogen in sufficient amounts which are dangerous and difficult to handle.
  • Fuel cells are affected by low temperatures, becoming less efficient.
  • Hydrogen is expensive to produce and store.

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Morgan Curtin Chemistry

Author: Morgan

Morgan’s passion for the Periodic Table begun on his 10th birthday when he received his first Chemistry set. After studying the subject at university he went on to become a fully fledged Chemistry teacher, and now works in an international school in Madrid! In his spare time he helps create our fantastic resources to help you ace your exams.