Fuel cells have several advantages that make them a suitable replacement for ordinary power production devices. These advantages are high efficiency, wide range for design parameters, environment friendly, Wide range for selecting fuel, less energy loss, low maintenance,etc. These advantages are discussed below . . .
Since fuel cells do not follow the governing rules of heat engines, they can have efficiency up to three times that of heat engines. The efficiency of these cells is usually between 40 to 80 percent. If the heat produced by the cell is removed, the efficiency can rise to 85 percent.
Wide range for design parameters:
Fuel cells can be designed flexibly. It’s easy to use several cells in series or parallel and disable any of them when needed. Also it’s possible to build cell with different powers for example 100 MW for coal to 500 MW for natural gas fuel. Number of cells does not affect the total efficiency of the system considerably, so the value of cells per unit energy will be almost a constant number.
As these cells have high efficiency, the produce low amounts of carbon, nitrogen and sulfur oxides. They can be installed for home use because of low noise production level. Also, the water needed for the cell can be provided by the water produced by the cell itself.
Wide range for selecting fuel:
These cells can use methane, methanol, coal, or other hydrocarbons as fuel. When these hydrocarbon fuels are not available, hydrogen is second choice for efficient fuel.
Less energy loss:
Today, 8 to 10 percent of the electricity produced by the power plants is lost in transfer lines and cables; but such cells can be installed in the place needed. Also the danger of electromagnetic fields produced by high voltage and current cables will reduce.
Since fuel cells don’t have mechanical parts, they don’t need to be serviced in short periods. For usual cells, air filters and absorbers must be replaced every 5 years. This period will increase up to 20 years in near future.
by N. Ghodrati – Persian Gulf university of Iran
Director: Dr. M. Mofarahi
Translated by: P. Jowkar
Editor: M. A. Makarem