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Fuel Cells - Its Pros and Cons

April 21, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 198

Around the world, research by several companies is underway to improve fuel sources. The main focus of development is the reduction of the high temperature needed in providing electrical current from the cell which significantly reduces the costs of materials needed to house the fuel cell. One interesting and promising area of the research is the hybrid solution combining gas turbines with the cell to help augment in the chemical reaction. This is the same step used by current hybrid vehicles which combine electrical batteries and a gas-powered engine.

A fuel cell is an electro chemical mechanism that can be used in converting chemical energy into electrical energy. This requires hydrogen and oxygen as fuel. Recent oil price hikes have helped in the expansion for its development. Major technical problems must be overcome as the cell centers operate on high temperatures that are needed to produce electrical current resulting to longer start up time for the fuel cell.

Its advantages continue to inspire developers, engineers, investors and entrepreneurs. On the other hand, disadvantages loom as a long term energy crisis solution. Let us check the pros and cons this presents:

In Terms of Energy

• Pro Hydrogen is an abundant energy. HHO gas (not anything more than water vapor) is the fuel that is used to power hydrogen fuel cells. HHO generators carry out an electrolytic course that separates oxygen molecules from the hydrogen molecules with the intention to use hydrogen to fuel generators.

• Con It loses energy. It costs more in the end to produce energy, costlier than the yield from the fuel cell.

In terms of Maintenance and Implementation

• Pro Requires low maintenance, easy to use and simple to maintain. Just ensure that the quart-sized reservoir has enough quantity of fluid. The lightest element is hydrogen and provides the best energy to weight ratio of any given fuel. Hydrogen is neutral, unscented and its end-product is water. Ecological and engineering benefits are attained when clean hydrogen is used to power fuel cells.

• Con Costs: Cost involved to implement a system is no less than $5,000 per kilowatt. Energy generation developers aim to meet a goal of $1,000 to $1,500 per kilowatt. Until it is economically feasible, it is considered to be the biggest challenge to hurdle.

Longer time fuelling: Carmakers looking at fuel cell energy to solve current gas problems noted that fuel-cell powered cars take longer to fuel and drive shorter distances compared to other cars.

In terms of Safety, Production and Shipment

• Pro Fuel cells are safe to either use or operate.

• ConBig and bulky: An issue that needs settling is the one on the difficulty to find a feasible way to produce, ship and distribute hydrogen, which is needed to fuel the fuel cell.

In Terms of Effect to the Environment

It is good for the environment. They are the cleanest burning fuels ever developed. The only emission is water vapor. It is like having a humidifier for the whole world.

Truth remains that using hydrogen fuel cells as an alternate fuel will help solve the world's growing need for renewable energy, further leading to a cleaner and healthier environment. The only emission is water vapor as compared to gasoline burning cars that releases toxic elements into the air. Clearly, hydrogen fuel cell is an alternative fuel that has the most promise as compared to any other alternative fuel.

ReTech Power and Water Engineering specializes in leading edge renewable energy development, with a history of tackling some of the most challenging engineering problems of the day. Our global experience spans 35 years of diverse project engagement and positions us perfectly to address the current thrust into the much needed renewable energy development of today. For more information on renewable energy, visit our website at http://www.retecheng.com

Source: EzineArticles
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