The chemical energy of hydrogen or another fuel is used in a fuel cell to generate electricity that is both safe and reliable. As hydrogen is used as a fuel, the only items are electricity, water, and heat. Fuel cells are one of a kind in terms of their possible applications; they can fuel systems as big as a utility power plant and as compact as a laptop computer.
ADVANTAGES OF FUEL CELLS
There are many advantages of fuel cells, some of them are:
Hydrogen is an energy storage medium. The energy contained as hydrogen in the form of a gas or a liquid can never be lost until it is used, making it ideal for emergency generators and other mission-critical energy applications. Other energy storage types, such as batteries and capacitors, lose their stored energy over time and must be recharged regularly, even when not in operation.
Energy Efficiency: Currently, most internal combustion engines have an efficiency of about 25%, and power plants have an efficiency of around 35%; however, a stationary fuel cell can achieve an efficiency of more than 80% when used with integrated heat and power model.
Noise: Machinery operation is much more silent and smooth when compared to other sources. Production is also very noiseless, making fuel cells a better option.
Environmental benefits: Usage of fuel cells greatly reduce Carbon Dioxide and other harmful emissions.
Hydrogen, in itself, is very abundantly found in the air around us. Moreover, electrolysis of water for the production of water only has oxygen as a by-product, which again is not harmful to the environment. Overall, the dependence on Fossil fuels is greatly reduced with the usage of fuel cells.
DISADVANTAGES OF USING FUEL CELLS
Though there are many advantages of using fuel cells, there are some aspects that still need development. Some of those aspects are,
Counterproductive: Although hydrogen fuel cells do not emit harmful gases during operation, the same cannot be said for the hydrogen fuel manufacturing process. In reality, hydrogen power is essentially energy-neutral, meaning it requires nearly as much energy to generate as it produces.
Raw material cost: Iridium and platinum are often used as catalysts in fuel cells and certain forms of water electrolysers, implying that the initial cost of fuel cells (and electrolysers) will be high. Many people have been hesitant to invest in hydrogen fuel cell technologies because of the high cost. To make hydrogen fuel cells a sustainable fuel supply for all, these costs must be reduced.
Accommodation: Transporting and storing hydrogen is more difficult than transporting and storing fossil fuels. As a result, there are additional costs to consider when using hydrogen fuel cells as an energy source.
APPLICATIONS OF FUEL CELLS
There is a wide variety of usage of fuel cells. It is used in the transportation sector, for buses, trains and cars. It is also used in Backup and emergency power generation. It has often been used in space expeditions, including the Apollo space program. The portability of some fuel cells has been useful in the military sector. The electrochemical cells have also been useful to power electronic devices. Some big projects have primarily included the use of fuel cells, such as
-In September 2015, Aditya Birla Group bought more than 200 fuel cells from Ballard industries to power its telecom towers.
– In September 2015, Intelligent Energy announced a deal of € 1.2 billion for the supply of fuel cells to power 27,400 towers in India.
-In the 2020 Olympics held in Tokyo, Japan, The Japanese govt. installed 35 hydrogen gas stations in the city to have 6000 fuel cells based cars on the roads and increase the quantities of fuel cell-based buses in Tokyo.
The advantages of hydrogen fuel cells as one of the most efficient alternative energy options are evident; however, there are still many obstacles to address before hydrogen can fully realize its potential as a key enabler for tomorrow’s decarbonized energy system.
Hydrogen has the potential to become the most reliable option for our future energy needs, but it will take political will and funding to make this happen. Nonetheless, as fossil fuels become scarce, hydrogen can become a critical component of our global energy needs.
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