Fuel cells

Posted: 3 November 2000

Fuel cells are electrochemical devices that convert a fuel's energy directly to electrical energy through a chemical reaction instead of combustion. Fuel cells operate much like continuous batteries when supplied with fuel to the anode (negative electrode). Fuel cells forego the traditional extraction of energy in the form of combustion heat, conversion of heat energy to mechanical energy (as with a turbine), and finally turning mechanical energy into electricity (e.g. using a dynamo). Instead, fuel cells chemically combine the molecules of a fuel and oxidizer without burning, dispensing with the inefficiencies and pollution of traditional combustion.