What Are Fuel Cells and How Do They Work?

Fuel cells are an electrochemical cell that utilize the chemical energy of hydrogen in order to produce electricity through a pair of redox reactions. With their output, fuel cells provide energy for a diverse set of applications including transportation, emergency backup power, power stations, marine applications, and much more. While fuel cells can be comparable to batteries and other devices, their unique method of electricity production sets them apart with their capabilities. In this blog, we will discuss what fuel cells are in detail, as well as how they function.

While fuel cells may come in a variety of types and shapes, all operate on the same principles. In general, a typical fuel cell is composed of three fuel cell parts that are adjacent to one another, and these include the anode, electrolyte, and cathode. At the anode, a catalyst such as hydrogen is used to oxidize the fuel, and this causes the fuel to become a positively charged ion and negatively charged electron. The electrolyte permits the passage of the ions, though inhibits any electrons from entering. Instead, the electrons travel through a wire, thus generating an electric current for use. Then, the ions travel from the electrolyte to the cathode, meeting the electrons once again before reacting with a third chemical. This third chemical typically comes in the form of oxygen, and the reaction between the oxygen, electrolytes, and ions cause water or carbon dioxide to be produced. Through the use of such chemical reactions within fuel cell parts, the fuel cell has a high operating efficiency, near-zero emissions, no moving parts, and are nearly instantaneous in recharge capability.

Fuel cells are often compared to batteries, though they differ in some significant ways. While both fuel cells and batteries are electrochemical devices that generate power through reactions, batteries are set apart by their role as an energy storage device, have their reactants built into battery parts, and have a maximum amount of energy production based on the amount of chemical reactant that is stored within the battery parts. Fuel cells, on the other hand, need to be supplied with fuel and other substances for operation. Fuel cells may also be compared with devices such as a box heat engine or jacket heat engine, though such apparatuses differ in the fact that they require multiple devices to generate electric energy through intermediate steps.

Due to the reliability and operation of a fuel cell, they prove very useful for a variety of applications that require a steady electrical energy supply. When you are searching for fuel cells parts, battery parts, or other electronic components, let the experts at ASAP Aviation Hub help you source everything that you need quickly and efficiently. We offer our customers access to an inventory consisting of over 2 billion parts and components, and we provide rapid lead-times and competitive pricing that are unmatched. Get started on the purchasing process today and receive a personalized quote when you fill out and submit an Instant RFQ form.


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