Horizon Interactive Fuel Cell Tutorial

Fuel cells are devices that convert chemical energy directly into electricity and heat with high efficiency. Learn the basics of fuel cells, the types of fuel cells, and the various fuel cell applicatios with this interactive tutorial.

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Introduction

The Horizon Renewable Energy Science Education Set provides for interesting experiments with fuel cells, solar panels and wind turbines.

F uel Cell Mode - Generating Electricity from Hydrogen and Oxygen

LESSON OVERVIEW

This lesson demonstrates how a fuel cell generates electricity from combining hydrogen and oxygen. The Fuel Cell Mode as it is called is just the reverse of the Electrolysis Mode where water is split into hydrogen and oxygen. In the Fuel Cell mode the hydrogen and oxygen are recombined to create electricity.

LESSON OBJECTIVES

  • Students will use the Scientific Process to perform the experiment.
  • Students will collect and analyze data.
  • Students will learn to use a reversible PEM fuel cell in the fuel cell mode.
  • Students will learn the principles of generating DC electricity with a fuel cell.
  • Students will learn to calculate energy.
  • Students will use the Internet to research lesson related topics.

LEARNING OUTCOMES

Students are shown that the hydrogen and oxygen produced in the experiment entitled "Electrolysis Mode - Generating Hydrogen and Oxygen from Water" can now be recombined to generate DC electricity to drive a small electric motor.
Students come to understand that:
1. A fuel cell is like a battery that supplies voltage and current into a load as long as a supply of hydrogen and oxygen are available.
2. Fuel cells can operate with other substances besides hydrogen and oxygen including alkaline and methanol.
3. The choice of fuel cell electrolyte material is dependent on the application for which it is intended.

STUDENT ACTIVITIES

Students produce a sufficient quantity of hydrogen and oxygen via an electrolyzer then allow the fuel cell to recombine these gasses to generate electricity. An electric motor is used to consume the electricity. Power from the fuel cell is measured with the motor just free-spinning and with it connected to a propeller as a load. Data are taken and later analyzed to determine the loading effect of the propeller. Download the entire curriculum here.

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