To operate the fuel cell, we need to cause bubbles of hydrogen to cling to one electrode, and bubbles of oxygen to cling to the other.
The Fuel Cell-Powered Home: An Approaching Reality? – FuelCellsWorks
There is a very simple way to do this. We touch the 9 volt battery to the battery clip we don't need to actually clip it on, since it will only be needed for a second or two. Touching the battery to the clip causes the water at the electrodes to split into hydrogen and oxygen, a process called electrolysis.
You can see the bubbles form at the electrodes while the battery is attached. Now we remove the battery. If we were not using platinum coated wire, we would expect to see the volt meter read zero volts again, since there is no battery connected.
The platinum acts as a catalyst , allowing the hydrogen and oxygen to recombine. The hydrolysis reaction reverses. Instead of putting electricity into the cell to split the water, hydrogen and oxygen combine to make water again, and produce electricity. We initially get a little over two volts from the fuel cell. As the bubbles pop, dissolve in the water, or get used up by the reaction, the voltage drops, quickly at first, then more slowly.
After a minute or so, the voltage declines much more slowly, as most of the decline is now due only to the gasses being used up in the reaction that produces the electricity. Notice that we are storing the energy from the 9 volt battery as hydrogen and oxygen bubbles. We could instead bubble hydrogen and oxygen from some other source over the electrodes, and still get electricity.
Or we could produce hydrogen and oxygen during the day from solar power, and store the gasses, then use them in the fuel cell at night. We could also store the gasses in high pressure tanks in an electric car, and generate the electricity the car needs from a fuel cell. We have two things going on in this project — the electrolysis of water into hydrogen and oxygen gasses, and the recombining of the gasses to produce electricity.
We will look into each step separately. The electrode connected to the negative side of the battery has electrons that are being pushed by the battery. A water molecule H20 is, after all, made up of two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen.
The Fuel Cell-Powered Home: An Approaching Reality?
By using electrolysis, you can break up these molecules into the two separate gases, oxygen and hydrogen. This procedure seems simple enough, but how simple is it, really? Can the average person actually make one of these hydrogen fuel cells? The answer is, yes. By using an electrolysis process you can actually separate oxygen and hydrogen from the water these two gases create.
This electrolysis process can be used to make one of these hydrogen fuel cells. To do this, you'll need a few materials and instructions such as those you'll find below.
How to Build a Fuel Cell
To create a hydrogen fuel cell, you'll need to use the materials above, along with electrodes that are made from nickel wire. However, while each of these address generation of power, they do not directly address how to store it. The answer to that question may be surprising: hydrogen fuel cells. Long used in industrial settings and automobiles, this is a technology that may finally be ready for individual homes, as well.
Fuel cells can generate hydrogen from either electrical grid power or from other power sources like solar panels or wind generators. Using stored power can reduce the load on the power grid at peak times.
It can store seasonally plentiful energy for times when energy is less abundant. It can also provide power security in the face of storms or other events that cause disruptions to power supplies. Fuel cells have had mostly industrial applications. However, more companies are moving into the consumer sector and offering fuel cells for homes.
For instance, German manufacturer Home Power Solutions recently rolled out a micro cell option for homes. The cells create hydrogen from solar energy collected in the summer. Then, during darker winter months, the stored fuel is used to heat the home as well as provide power for lighting and other applications.