The future of energy: Fuel cells

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What is a fuel cell and why is it important? A fuel cell produces clean energy through a chemical reaction of hydrogen and oxygen. Fuel cells are extremely unique and can be quite powerful if used correctly. They are similar to batteries but do not require recharge or replacement.

In general terms, a fuel cell converts hydrogen and oxygen into water through a chemical reaction, which creates electricity. The electricity then converts into power for an item. However, there are plenty of other types of fuel cells which utilize different fuels such as methanol or alkaline to create different types of power. The benefits of utilizing fuel cells are vast:

  • They can improve our environment since they do not give off pollutants.
  • They can be more efficient than combustion engines (A.K.A a typical car engine).
  • There are many types which means many opportunities for cleaner power.
  • They are versatile enough to power small to large items.
  • They can be combined with other energy technologies.

As mentioned above, fuel cells can power a variety of things, but are still being tested and have not been introduced to market in a large capacity. However, a fuel cell car has made its way to the public, the Toyota Mirai. So how do fuel cell cars work? Fuel cell cars are considered electric vehicles but do not require charging like a traditional electric car. Instead, they will need to fill up at a hydrogen fueling station, which are currently limited to California, South Carolina, Connecticut, and Massachusetts.

Fuel cells and fuel cell cars have taken longer to catch on in the United States due to the competitive and monopolized market of gas-powered cars and the high expense of the vehicle. Also, because fuel cells require a lot of energy to be powered, the energy source has to be replenished even faster than with gas-powered cars. While there are plenty of kinks to work out before fuel cells are fully-integrated into a reusable power source, we see the light at the end of the tunnel of possibilities.