Right after development of the battery, it became power source for many electrical products. With the continuous innovation of technology, the cell technology has been updated from the carbon-zinc batteries, dry batteries, lithium batteries to solar cells, graphene battery and now hydrogen fuel cell, and every change brings a leap for new industries.
While in the process of evolution, some people may question that whether the latest technology–hydrogen fuel cell technology is reliable or not, whether it is safe enough for the end-users to solve real problems. The analysis here provides in-depth view on the hydrogen cell fuel technology and clear the doubts.
The hydrogen fuel cell uses compressed hydrogen and oxygen from the air to generate electricity. The hydrogen and oxygen are combined to form water, and the electrons from the hydrogen are diverted to do useful work. In a word, the hydrogen fuel cell is an electrochemical energy conversion device, and a fuel cell converts the chemicals hydrogen and oxygen into water, and in the process it produces electricity.
Unlike other power sources, the hydrogen is readily available and a non-toxic substance which is rare for a fuel source. It doesn’t generate carbon dioxide when burnt. The only exhaust from the fuel cell is water vapor, so the hydrogen fuel cell is eco-friendly.
Hydrogen fuel sometimes comes with unique risks, but those risks are overblown. In the fuel cell, chemical energy is directly generated into electrical energy. There’s no burning process. With the safety switch to control both gas tank and the reactor, Hydrogen fuel cell is safer than other power sources.
So far, Hydrogen fuel cell technology is most widely used in fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs: such as Buses, Automobiles, and Motorcycles). Scientists designed the first hydrogen powered automobile in 1965 and the technology of hydrogen powered dynamotor has constantly been improved, thus pushing other fields forward. In 2005 a British manufacturer of hydrogen-powered fuel cells, Intelligent Energy (IE), produced the first working hydrogen run motorcycle called the ENV (Emission Neutral Vehicle). The motorcycle holds enough fuel to run for four hours, and to travel 160 km (100 mi) in an urban area, at a top speed of 80 km/h (50 mph). In 2004 Honda developed a fuel-cell motorcycle that utilized the Honda FC Stack.
Other examples of motorbikes and bicycles that use hydrogen fuel cells include the Taiwanese company APFCT’s scooter using the fueling system from Italy’s Acta SpA and the Suzuki Burgman scooter with an IE fuel cell that received EU Whole Vehicle Type Approval in 2011. Suzuki Motor Corp. and IE have announced a joint venture to accelerate the commercialization of zero-emission vehicles.
The vehicles’ popularity contributes to the emergence of relevant industry related–Hydrogen fuel cell stations. The New York Times reported that there were “10 hydrogen stations available to the public in the entire United States: one in Columbia, S.C., eight in Southern California and the one in Emeryville”.
In recent years, experts turn their focus on aerospace industry—specially towards UAV. Drone manufacturers such as MicroMultiCopter Aero Technology Co., Inc. (MMC), Horizon Energy Systems, and EnergyOr Technologies are studying the technology. While MMC is the first one and only one that makes the end products Hydrogen fuel cell drone — available in the market. In April, 2016, MMC launched a press conference introducing its leading R&D achievement: Hydrogen powered UAV–HyDrone 1800. HyDrone’s alternative source of energy keeps it in the air for more than 4 hours, gives it a radius of up to 100km with a live video stream, and works in temperatures below -20 Celsius. And the thrust to achieve for the best never ends. Recently an upgraded drone—HyDrone 1550 was launched in the same year by the same company MMC. It is lighter and more beautiful in appearance and robust which becomes the most popular drone in the market. This event marks a ground breaking record in industrial drone industry.
There are many successful examples for the application of Hydrogen fuel cell and it solves the real problems for humans. In the field of FCEVs, Hydrogen is an obvious solution for limiting dependency on oil and also ensuring that our vehicles are more environmentally friendly. And in aerospace, thanks to the development of cell technology, the flight time of UAV will still break the record continually. Longer flight endurance greatly expands the application of UAV, and a wider range of inspection, surveying and mapping project have become possible.