The fuel cell concept is simple:
Hydrogen + Oxygen → Electricity + Water + Heat
2 H2 + O2 → 2 H2O
Advantages of the technology:
Fuel cell system direct emissions are just water and heat.
Fuel cells have no moving parts. They are thus much more reliable than traditional engines.
PEM fuel cells operate at a low temperature, which allows for faster start-up and rapid response to changes in the demand for power (load following), are ideally suited to both motive and stationary applications.
Hydrogen can be produced in an environmentally friendly manner (from solar or wind energy), while oil extraction and refining is very damaging.
Regarding the PEM technology (Proton Exchange Membrane), the electrochemical system contains a membrane inserted between two metallic conduction plates. This polymer membrane only lets H+ protons, the nucleus of hydrogen atoms, pass through.
The protons pass through the membrane and move toward the other side of the cell. The electrons, which cannot pass through this barrier, pass into the electrical circuit. Simultaneously, on the other side of the membrane in contact with a new catalyst, the protons react with the oxygen and the electrons of the circuit, to form water, the fuel cell’s only by-product.
This clean reaction takes place in each of the basic cells that are combined to constitute an energy module of the desired power. A fuel cell is an assembly of several cells in a series or in parallel in a stack, which makes it possible to obtain different voltages and current output.
The stacks are assembled and integrated with supply system for hydrogen and air. They are also supported by cooling system and the electrical system is in charge of producing electricity under the supervision of a SCADA.