Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: August 17, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412959216 | Print ISBN: 9781412959209 | Online ISBN: 9781412959216| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Fuel Cell Technology
A fuel cell is a relatively simple device for separating electrons from their atoms via a chemical process and thereby deriving electricity from the flow of electrons. Hydrogen is the best-known source of fuel cell electricity, but other elements are also viable in certain circumstances. Fuel cells are attractive because they constitute an energy process that contributes no pollution, and especially no greenhouse gases. They generate only electricity, heat, and small amounts of water. For this reason, they will continue to be prominent in discussions of our energy future. In addition, they have very high levels of potential efficiency for converting the power source to useful energy. It is not unusual for fuel cells to have efficiency rates of 40% or more; an incandescent lightbulb, by contrast, has a rate of only 5% of its energy converted to light. The other 95% is lost. William Grove, a Welsh physicist, built ...