Building a hydrogen fuel cell can be as easy as having some simple materials at hand. Let’s dig a little bit into what is a hydrogen fuel cell and understand and what most people understand by building a hydrogen fuel cell.
What Is A Hydrogen Fuel Cell
The technical term of hydrogen fuel cell is misused by most of the HHO enthusiasts. A hydrogen fuel cell is in fact a device capable to convert the chemical energy of a fuel into electricity. In the special case of hydrogen fuel cell, the fuel is the hydrogen which is the most abundant fuel on the planet. The hydrogen fuel cell can be seen as a battery which outputs electrical energy as long as it has hydrogen and oxygen as input.
Referring to the HHO generator as a hydrogen fuel cell is completely incorrect. As opposite to the actual hydrogen fuel cell which takes hydrogen and oxygen as input, the HHO generator takes electrical energy as input and splits the water molecules in hydrogen and oxygen.
The hydrogen fuel cell was invented back in 1838 and was commercially used for the first time by NASA to power the electrical equipment on their satellites. Since NASA the fuel cell became well known and widely used as an electrical energy alternative in industrial applications, remote areas and even to power vehicles.
The hydrogen fuel cell consists of three major parts: cathode, anode and electrolyte. The anode is coated with a catalyst which is capable to split the hydrogen into a positive ion and an negative electron. From here the positive hydrogen ion travels through the electrolyte till it reaches the cathode. The hydrogen fuel cell electrolyte is a special one as it doesn’t permit electrons to move between electrodes but lets hydrogen ions travel freely. The electrons will use the electrical wires to reach the other side. Once the hydrogen ions reach the cathode they reunite with the free electron and react with the oxygen to create water.
Although it seems a simple device, it’s price is very high as the anode catalyst is a form or platinum powder. Research has been done to find a less expensive hydrogen fuel cell catalyst but since now the platinum has by far the highest capacity to split Hydrogen in ions and electrons.