Can this be a natural step to a fossil fuel free future?
How a hydrogen fuel cell works
- Fuel cells have higher efficiency of converting chemical energy to electricity and mechanical work than combustion engine, are not limited by the Carnot limit and are continually improving.
- They can operate efficiently on hydrogen generated from traditional (fossil hydrocarbons) sources and from renewable sources. When used with hydrogen from renewable sources there is no greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
- There are no air pollutants (NOx, SO2, PM10 and PM2.5) generated from fuel cells.
- There are no moving parts, they operate silently, can be installed beside, on top or within any commercial or residential building.
- Heat generated by fuel cells can be used for heating and for cooling (with absorption chiller). Can you imagine an office tower using incorporated fuel cells to provide local power, electricity, heat and cooling from locally available natural gas?
- The absence of combustion and moving parts means that fuel cells are more reliable than combustion engines.
- They are very responsive to fluctuating electrical loads.
- Fuel cells are the ideal solution to use with natural gas and will allow a gradual move by society to renewable sources of hydrogen.
- It takes longer to startup a fuel cell than a combustion engine.
- Fuel cells are more expensive than combustion technologies due to limited use and exotic and expensive materials used as catalysts. Some may argue that if full cost of power generated by combustion technologies were included, namely health and climate change costs, fuel cell generated power cost is already at par with combustion.
- For mobile use, there is no hydrogen infrastructure to support a mobile application.