There are several types of fuel cells that have been developed with emerging technologies in the alternative fuel industry. Fuel cells convert energy like hydrogen into electricity providing a cleaner burning fuel that emits no pollution into the air. Fuel cell technologies have proven to be life-changing for many people and the world as well. With the development of a part that can power a car with little to no emissions will help the environment and reduce global warming.
A polymer exchange membrane fuel cell was developed through technologies that are endorsed by the Department of Energy. The DOE is focusing on the PEMFC as the most likely candidate for transportation applications. This type of fuel cell has a higher power density and a relatively low operating temperature (140 176 degrees Fahrenheit. The low operating temperature of this fuel cell means that it doesn’t take very long for the fuel cell to warm up and begin generating electricity.
Most of the fuel cell technologies being explored today are based on using hydrogen as the main fuel source. With the PEMFC, that is the case. It is the most prominent type of fuel cell that is currently being looked at to be used in alternative fuel vehicles.
There is also a direct methanol fuel cell that compares with the PEMFC as far as its operating temperature. However, these fuel cells aren’t as efficient. Another disadvantage to this fuel cell is that it requires a large amount of platinum to act as a catalyst. That alone makes it very expensive to run. We’re sure, however, that emerging technologies in the fuel cell market will improve on this and make it more cost efficient for the average consumer.
One problem with fuel cells that technology has yet to solve is that they are expensive to make. Many of the components of a fuel cell are expensive thus making the whole fuel cell costly. In order to be competitively priced (compared to gasoline-powered vehicles), fuel cell systems must cost $35 per kilowatt. Currently, the projected high-volume production price is $110 per kilowatt.
Another problem with fuel cell technologies is that they have yet to be converted enough to allow them to operate in various weather conditions. The membranes must by hydrated in order to transfer hydrogen protons. Therefore, researches must find a way to develop fuel cell systems that can continue to operate in sub-zero temperatures, low humidity environments and high operating temperatures. At around 80 degrees Celsius, hydration is lost without a high-pressure hydration system.
Fuel cell technologies are emerging and becoming more and more in-depth every day. Before long, we’ll have a great alternative to the gasoline powered car just with these tiny fuel cells.