In a hydrogen fuel cell, hydrogen is the fuel used. Oxygen is used as an oxidant. Environment pollution has become a major issue in our times. In such a time, hydrogen fuel cells have come as a boon. They provide clean energy, since water is their exhaust. No pollution. No recharging required.
Well there are some disadvantages too. These cells are sensitive to temperature variations, and they degrade when there is a rise in the operating temperature. They are expensive too.
Now if I say that you can make a hydrogen fuel cell at home in around fifteen minutes, would you believe that? Yes, it's true. Electrochemistry helps you do that. So if you want to make one right now, just follow my instructions. Before I start with the steps, I will tell you how a this cell actually works. It's just to clear some of the queries that might arise in your mind when I start with the instructions.
A hydrogen fuel cell comprises an anode, cathode, and an electrolyte. In a cell, the anode is the positive terminal while the cathode is the negative terminal. They are dipped in the electrolyte and are separated by a polymer electrolyte membrane (PME). The electrolyte acts a catalyst which triggers the reaction. This causes the positive ions to move towards the cathode through the PME, while the negative ions, or you can call them the electrons, move towards the cathode from the external circuit. This causes the electric current to flow.
We need a few things before we start making one, and they are:
- a glass filled with water
- 4 conducting wires
- nickel wires coated with platinum
- sticky tape
- a volt meter to read the changes in the voltage
- 2 nails
- a small wooden stick
- a 9 volt battery
Steps to Make a Homemade Hydrogen Fuel Cell
|1. Take the nickel wire and cut it into 2 pieces, say 4 - 6 inches each.|
|2. Take a piece of the wire and wind it onto a nail. Do the same with the other piece too.|
|3. Now stick the nails apart from each other on the wooden stick with the tape.|
|4. Remove the insulation from the edges of the conducting wires.|
|5. Connect the wires to the nails, 2 on each nail. Please see that the conducting wires do not touch the nickel wires.|
|6. Now take a wire from each nail and attach it to the volt meter. One to the positive and the other to the negative of the volt meter, respectively.|
|7. Place the wooden stick on the glass in such a way that only the nickel wires are submerged in the water.|
|8. Check the reading in the volt meter. You will find that is 0 or something like 0.01. You have 2 wires with open ends. Now connect them to the respective terminals of the battery. The connection should be only for a few seconds. This is for the initiation.|
|9. Your homemade hydrogen fuel cell is ready. Now observe the readings on the volt meter. You will observe that the voltage increases from 0 to a certain point, and then starts dipping.|
See, you can make a hydrogen cell at home itself. Here, we observe that we have only generated a low amount of voltage. You can connect such cells in series to increase the voltage or parallel to increase the current. The surface area of each cell tells you about the current, whereas the number of cells connected will give you the voltage.
A hydrogen fuel cell has no moving parts. Thus, it has greater mechanical efficiency. Devices with these cells are perhaps coolest and the cleanest things out there. They are the future.