A hydrogen fuel cell is an electrochemical cell that converts the chemical energy of hydrogen and oxygen into electricity. Fuel cells are different from traditional batteries in they require a continuous source of fuel (hydrogen) and oxidizing agent (oxygen) to operate. Hydrogen fuel cells are widely promoted as a cost-effective and environmentally responsible alternative to energy produced by burning fossil fuels such as petroleum and coal.
A Short History Of The Hydrogen Fuel Cell
The first fuel cell, a “gas battery“, was developed in 1839 by Sir William Grove, a British attorney and amateur scientist. Although a successful experiment, it was impractical, generating only 1 volt and suffering from electrode corrosion issues. The first practical fuel cell wasn’t developed until the early 1950s, when chemical engineer Francis Bacon produced an alkaline-based fuel cell, significantly increasing electrical output and solving the corrosion problem. By the mid-1960s, rapid advances in fuel cell technology were achieved, allowing for a 1.5 kW fuel cell to be deployed in the Apollo spacecraft.