Generating Electricity with Hydrogen Fuel Cells

In summary, the conversation revolves around the process of generating electricity using a hydrogen fuel cell. The experiment involved using an aqueous solution of NaCl connected to a 12 volt generator, resulting in a voltage of 1 volt. The participants discuss ways to increase this voltage, such as using platinum instead of copper electrodes. They also mention the appearance of a greenish substance, possibly Cu+, and ask for more information and tips to improve their experiment. The conversation ends with a discussion about using nickel electrodes and KOH instead of NaOH, and the potential benefits of using a warm solution at a higher concentration.
  • #1
Zeno's Paradox
17
0
In my school we are developing and investigating the process of generating electricity by means of an hydrogen fuel cell.
We have started with an aqueous solution of NaCl and connect it to a 12 volt generator. Then, we waited for 3-4 minutes and disconnected it from the generator and connected to a voltmeter. The voltage was near 1 volt. How could we increase this voltage? We used copper electrodes, but we know the platinum would be a better catalyst, but it is being difficult to buy it here. What are your tips, suggestions, to increase this voltage?

Also, during the process it appeared a greenish substance which I think it is Cu+ from the oxidation of the cooper. Isn't it?
If you could post some links for more information about this, it would be also a great help.:approve:

Thanks in advance.
 
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  • #2
Nickel electrodes are the cheapest alternative to platinum and they work like a charm.
 
  • #3
And Nickel-Chromium works better or worse than just nickel?
 
  • #4
Zeno's Paradox said:
In my school we are developing and investigating the process of generating electricity by means of an hydrogen fuel cell.
We have started with an aqueous solution of NaCl and connect it to a 12 volt generator. Then, we waited for 3-4 minutes and disconnected it from the generator and connected to a voltmeter. The voltage was near 1 volt. How could we increase this voltage? We used copper electrodes, but we know the platinum would be a better catalyst, but it is being difficult to buy it here. What are your tips, suggestions, to increase this voltage?

Also, during the process it appeared a greenish substance which I think it is Cu+ from the oxidation of the cooper. Isn't it?
If you could post some links for more information about this, it would be also a great help.:approve:

Thanks in advance.

Anytime the element chlorine involved in a redox environment, you want to be concerned about the formation of Cl2. The experiment should be performed under a fume hood if possible or in an adequately ventilated environment.

As far as the technicalities go, research the following webpage

http://www.howstuffworks.com/fuel-cell.htm
 
  • #5
According to Wikipedia

A typical fuel cell produces about 0.86 volts. To create enough voltage, the cells are layered and combined in series and parallel circuits to form a fuel cell stack. The number of cells used is usually greater than 45 but varies with design.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuel_cell

Also, there was no fuel cell mentioned which employed chlorine reagents. Chlorine gas is hazardous to your health!
 
  • #6
the greenish substance is probably not Cu+. Cu+ is unstable, and has a tendency to become Cu2+ which will turn your solution blue-green(mostly blue). This greenish substance, what physical state does it take?
 
  • #7
I would guess that nickel-chromium wire wouldn't work quite as well because most of your catalytic activity only comes from the nickel. When using a 9-volt battery, NaOH solution, and nickel electrodes extracted from a nickel-cadmium battery, I get about 1 volt after disconnection.
 
  • #8
Thanks for all your help. :)
 
  • #9
Your suggestions were very useful. We were able to get 1.7 volts, but instead of NaOH we used KOH. Is there an optimum KOH concentration ?
 
  • #10
Glad it worked. I haven't tried messing around with the concentration of alkali. I assume the higher the concentration the better? I know that in the industrial designs KOH is preferred over NaOH because KOH is more soluble and hence a more concentrated solution can be made. Also, I have read that warm (around 40C I think) solution works better than one at room temperature.
 

Related to Generating Electricity with Hydrogen Fuel Cells

1. What exactly is a hydrogen fuel cell?

A hydrogen fuel cell is an electrochemical device that uses hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity. It works by converting the chemical energy of hydrogen and oxygen into electrical energy, with only water and heat as byproducts.

2. How does a hydrogen fuel cell generate electricity?

A hydrogen fuel cell contains two electrodes - an anode and a cathode - separated by an electrolyte. The anode is where the hydrogen gas is introduced, and the cathode is where oxygen is introduced. The hydrogen atoms are split into protons and electrons at the anode, and the protons travel through the electrolyte to the cathode. The electrons, on the other hand, flow through an external circuit and create an electrical current. At the cathode, the protons, electrons, and oxygen combine to form water and heat, which are then released as byproducts.

3. What are the advantages of using hydrogen fuel cells for electricity generation?

There are several advantages of using hydrogen fuel cells for electricity generation. Firstly, they are highly efficient, with an efficiency of around 60%, compared to traditional combustion engines which have an efficiency of around 20-30%. Secondly, they produce zero emissions, making them environmentally friendly. Thirdly, hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, making it a readily available and sustainable source of energy.

4. What are the limitations of using hydrogen fuel cells for electricity generation?

One limitation of hydrogen fuel cells is the cost. The production of hydrogen fuel cells is still expensive, making it less economically competitive compared to other energy sources. Additionally, the infrastructure for producing, storing, and transporting hydrogen is not yet fully developed, making it difficult for widespread adoption. Lastly, the current technology for hydrogen fuel cells is not yet advanced enough to produce large amounts of electricity, limiting its use for larger scale power generation.

5. How can hydrogen fuel cells be used for electricity generation in the future?

There are ongoing research and development efforts to improve the efficiency and reduce the cost of hydrogen fuel cells. In the future, it is envisioned that hydrogen fuel cells can be used in a variety of applications, including powering homes, buildings, and even vehicles. As the technology continues to advance and infrastructure is built, hydrogen fuel cells have the potential to become a widely used and important source of electricity generation.

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