Figure 3: Combustion Process Source: http://www.aa1car.com/library/combustion.
gif Every day we use fossil fuels to power machines, buildings, andmainly our vehicles that we use every day. The problem with this is that fossilfuel is not a renewable energy source. At some time in the future, it will runout because we are using it at a faster rate than the time it takes to produceit. In order to solve this problem, we can only try to find an alternative tofossil fuel since fossil fuel needs over hundreds of millions of years to beproduced. Fossil fuel is quickly being used up by all countries around theworld and will soon be non-existent.
If fossil fuel runs out before we find analternative to it then we won’t be able to do our daily activities. Fossil fuelalso causes unwanted air pollution when it is burned. It releases nitrogenoxides and carbon monoxide which causes air pollution and acid rain. The gassesare then released to the air through the exhaust. Figure 3: Combustion Process Source: http://www.
aa1car.com/library/combustion.gif To reduce the combustion of fossil fuel in vehicles, we can replaceregular engines with a fuel cell. A hydrogenfuel cell is a device that generates electricity by a chemical reactioncontaining H2 and O2 as fuel. The products of thereaction in the cell are water, electricity, and heat.2 A hydrogenfuel cell is made up of a cathode, anode, electrolyte, and a catalyst.
Theanode is the negative post of the fuel cell, It conducts the electrons that arefreed from the hydrogen molecules so that they can be used to power the motorsof the car. The cathode is the positive post of the fuel cell, it has channelswhich distributes oxygen to the surface of the catalyst where then they willrecombine with the hydrogen ions and oxygen to form water. The water producedwill then go out through the exhaust of the car. The electrolyte is the protonexchange membrane. It conducts only positively charged ions and blockselectrons so that the negative ions will be used to power the motors which willmove the car. The reaction requites a platinum catalyst to maximize theefficiency of the fuel cell. The platinum catalyst helps the oxidation ofhydrogen gas to protons to occur at a faster rate.
This is due to the fact thathydrogen gas (H2) sticks to platinum metal which will help maximizethe rate of reaction. The hydrogen attracts to the catalyst on the anode whichthen the hydrogen will be separated from its electrons. The electrons will flowto the motors to power them and goes back to the fuel cell while the positiveion goes through the electrolyte to the cathode where it will then combine backwith the electrons which will react with oxygen (O2) to form water(H2O). The function of the oxygen is to remove used hydrogen fromthe fuel cell which will be brought out in the form of water.