Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are zero emission and run on compressed hydrogen fed into a fuel cell "stack" that produces electricity to power the vehicle. A fuel cell can be used in combination with an electric motor to drive a vehicle – quietly, powerfully and cleanly.
How It Works ?
A hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle is powered by a group of individual fuel cells, known as a fuel cell stack.The stack is designed to contain enough cells to provide the necessary power for the automotive application. A fuel cell stack produces power as long as fuel is available, similar to a combustion engine. The electricity generated by the fuel cell stack powers the electric motor that propels the vehicle.
Each fuel cell is an anode, a cathode and a proton exchange membrane sandwiched in between. Hydrogen, from a tank onboard the vehicle, enters into the anode side of the fuel cell. Oxygen, pulled from the air, enters the cathode side. As the hydrogen molecule encounters the membrane, a catalyst forces it to split into electron and proton. The proton moves through the fuel cell stack and the electron follows an external circuit, delivering current to the electric motor and other vehicle components. At the cathode side, the proton and electron join again, and then combine with oxygen to form the vehicle’s only tailpipe emission, water.
Fuel Cell Versus Rechargeable Batteries
A fuel cell operates similar to a rechargeable battery. Fuel cells and batteries are devices that transform chemical energy from a substance or compound into electricity through electrochemistry. The electrochemical reactions in batteries and fuel cells are controlled and produce virtually zero pollutants. The difference between the two technologies lies in the storage of fuel. A battery converts a finite amount of a chemical compound stored internally into electricity. The chemical substance consumed in the battery to produce electricity is regenerated when the battery is recharged. A fuel cell, on the other hand, converts a chemical compound stored externally into electricity. That chemical compound is hydrogen stored in a tank onboard the FCEV.