How it Works

A fuel cell hosts and facilitates the controlled chemical reaction of hydrogen and oxygen (from the air) to produce an electrical current.

The direct conversion of chemical potential energy to electrical energy in a single step means that fuel cells are highly efficient. With their potential for up to 65% electrical efficiency, AFCs have the scope to be the most efficient of all fuel cell types.

AFC Energy fuel cell system

How an Alkaline Fuel Cell Works

An alkaline fuel cell is a device that converts oxygen (from the air) and hydrogen (from a supply) into electrical energy and heat. It’s chemically comparable to a battery that will provide electric power continuously, as long as you feed it with hydrogen and air. The only by-products are demineralised water and heat – both of which also have commercial uses. Excluding water, an alkaline fuel cell is a zero emission device.

One major component of all fuel cells is the electrolyte. An electrolyte is a solution that is able to conduct electricity. In an alkaline fuel cell the electrolyte is an alkaline liquid: in this case, potassium hydroxide also known as KOH. The presence of the hydroxyl ions travelling across the electrolyte allow a circuit to be made and electrical energy can be extracted.

Diagram of how an alkaline fuel cell works

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