How do fuel cells work?

PEM fuel cells

We use low-temperature polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cells that generate electricity and heat from hydrogen as the fuel, with air and water as the only emissions. PEM fuel cells are characterized by their compactness and fast start-up and response times, making them suitable for a wide range of different applications.

PEM fuel cells are electrochemical devices capable of capturing most of the chemical energy from the reaction in which hydrogen and oxygen (from ambient air) form water, directly in electrical form. This is accomplished by dividing the reaction into two separate reaction chambers connected by a proton stream across a proton-conducting membrane and a circuit in which most of the energy released from the reactions is used to power various electrical devices. The reaction energy that’s not converted into electricity by the fuel cell is directed into a liquid cooling medium where it can be used for heating purposes, which can lead to very high overall efficiencies.

The fuel cell stack

In what’s known as a fuel cell stack, multiple unit cells are arranged to achieve the voltage and power levels required for various applications. PowerCell’s fuel cells consist of compact and lightweight metallic bipolar plates combined with durable and highly efficient membrane electrode assemblies. Liquid cooling of PowerCell’s fuel cell stacks enables compact system integration with high performance. A fuel cell stack is in itself a completely passive component that must be integrated into a fuel cell system to generate electricity.

The fuel cell system

A fuel cell stack cannot be operated independently, but must be integrated into a fuel cell system. In the fuel cell system, various auxiliary components such as compressors, pumps, sensors, valves, electrical components and the control unit provide the fuel cell stack with the necessary supply of hydrogen, air and coolant. The control unit enables safe and reliable operation of the entire fuel cell system.

Additional peripheral components are required to operate the fuel cell system in the intended application, e.g. power electronics, inverters, batteries, fuel tanks, coolers, ventilation and control cabinet.

For inquiries please contact: