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Hydrogen Fuel Cells: A Better Source Of Energy?

1833 words - 7 pages

Today oil is growing increasingly expensive and pollution is increasing due to the fumes coming from cars and factories. On the other hand, there are a few ways to decrease the pollution on this earth and use an alternative fuel for cars. One of the few ways is to use a hydrogen fuel cell, which is a catalyst that converts the chemical energy of a fuel, such as hydrogen, and an oxidant, such as oxygen, directly to electricity. Hydrogen fuel cells have the potential to power our cars in a more efficient way, which will lead to cleaner and less polluted air. The hydrogen fuel cells run on hydrogen, which is the most plentiful gas in the universe, but is never found alone on the earth. However, it may be extracted from any hydrogen compound and is very easy to manufacture. Nonetheless, the fuel cell is not that simple, it involves chemistry, which is how the fuel cell works. The hydrogen fuel cells provide many benefits for the earth and cars, as well as losses.The fuel cell was first invented in the 19th century by Sir William Robert Grove, a British judge and scientist. In 1839, William Grove experimented with electrolysis, which is the production of chemical energy by passing an electric current through a liquid used to break up a compound into elements. Grove conducted an experiment in which he placed two platinum strips in separate sealed bottles; one of the bottles contained hydrogen and the other contained oxygen. Then these containers were absorbed in dilute sulfuric acid, which allowed an electric current to flow between the two electrodes. In addition to the electric current, water had formed in the containers. Grove then combined numerous bottles containing hydrogen and oxygen together to increase the voltage and called this a gas battery. Even though Sir William Grover conducted the experiment that lead to the fuel cell, it wasn't till 1889 that it was named the fuel cell by chemists Ludwig Mond and Charles Langer. Dr. Francis Thomas Bacon then studied the fuel cell in 1932 and resurrected the machine created by Ludwig Mond and Charles Langer. However, adjustments were made, which included changing the aluminum electrodes to nickel gauze and switched from a sulfuric acid electrolyte to an alkali potassium hydroxide. In the 1960's NASA needed a way to power various flights but batteries were too heavy, solar energy was too expensive and nuclear energy was too risky. The only other alternative that was found was the fuel cell, which was then experimented with throughout the years. The first time the fuel cell was used in a commercial use was with NASA on the Gemini space project. The hydrogen fuel cell is now being used more and more in commercial places, as well as in automobiles.Hydrogen fuel cells work almost like batteries, but differ in the fact that they cannot die out because of the constant input of chemicals into the fuel cell. Like the battery, a fuel cell converts all of the chemicals to electricity and the chemicals in the fuel...

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