How the Fuel Cell Technology in Cars Work
1 June, 2022
The development of increasingly sophisticated technology brings many changes, including within the automotive industry. Currently, many car manufacturers have made innovations in vehicles, one of which is embedding fuel cell technology. With this technology, the car becomes more environmentally friendly because it does not produce emissions.
In recent times, environmentally friendly cars are increasingly in demand by the public. This is because this type of car is safer for the environment and can save in the long term because you do not need to buy gasoline as vehicle fuel. Not only that, environmentally friendly cars like this are also a solution for the availability of fuel oil (BBM) which can decrease over time.
Fuel technology is one of the solutions and alternatives to overcome the problem of fuel scarcity that has often occurred recently. So what exactly is fuel cell technology and what are its advantages? For more detailed information about this technology, let's see the following review.
Understanding Fuel Cell Technology
Fuel cell is a technology in the form of an electrochemical conversion device that can generate electricity from the reaction between hydrogen and oxygen. In its working principle, the fuel cell works like a battery but does not require recharging because it can continue to produce electricity as long as the fuel, namely hydrogen and oxygen, is still fulfilled.
There are several types of fuel cell technology, including:
- Polymer Electrolyte Membrane (PEM) Fuel Cell
- Direct Methanol Fuel Cell
- Reversible Fuel Cells
Fuel Cells in the Automotive Industry
As explained above, a fuel cell is a technology that can convert hydrogen and oxygen into water and at the same time produce electrical energy. Currently, fuel cell technology is widely used for environmentally friendly cars because it produces emissions that are only in the form of water.
The use of fuel cell technology can be an alternative energy in the car industry.
Advantages of Fuel Cell
The following are some of the advantages and disadvantages of fuel cell technology for the automotive industry:
Fuel cells are included in environmentally friendly technological innovations, especially when used in automotive fuels. For example, fuel oil is able to produce CO2 which becomes combustion waste which is the main cause of air pollution.
While the fuel cell, because it uses hydrogen and oxygen as a source of energy to generate electricity, the waste or emissions produced are only in the form of ordinary water. This is what makes fuel cells very suitable for use in environmentally friendly cars such as the Wuling EV electric car.
2. Abundant Resources
Another reason why fuel cells can be an alternative to car energy sources is that they are abundant. Hydrogen and oxygen are renewable resources so their availability will always be there. This is certainly different from coal or oil which is a non-renewable natural resource so that its availability is running low.
3. Faster Charging
Basically the way a fuel cell works is to generate electricity from a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen. However, the car still needs to be recharged. However, the process of charging a car with fuel cell technology is shorter than charging an ordinary electric car.
Charging a car that uses fuel cell technology only takes about 10 minutes. This is definitely different when compared to electric cars which take hours to recharge.
Disadvantages of Fuel Cell Technology
Although it offers many advantages, fuel cells still have some drawbacks that you need to consider before using them. Some of these shortcomings include:
1. The Price is Quite Expensive
Because it is a technological innovation in the automotive industry, it is still quite new. This makes the use of this technology still quite limited so it is not surprising that the selling price is still quite expensive. In addition, the components that support this technological change are also still limited, so the price is still quite expensive.
2. Prone to Freezing
If used at sufficiently low temperatures, hydrogen and oxygen as energy sources for this technology are very prone to freezing. This makes the exhaust process on the vehicle to be hampered so that it affects the performance of the vehicle itself.
3. Sensitive to Foreign Substances
One more disadvantage of this fuel cell is that it is quite sensitive when mixed with foreign substances. In the process of changing hydrogen and oxygen into water, this process can be hampered if the fuel cell mixes with other substances.
In Indonesia itself, fuel cell technology has begun to be introduced to the public, especially in the automotive industry. This makes this type of car a more environmentally friendly vehicle because it produces emissions in the form of water.
How Fuel Cell Technology Works in Cars
This technology in Indonesia is actually not new. There have been several types of environmentally friendly cars that use this technology as an energy source. The way cars that use fuel cell technology work with electric cars are usually very different. Cars with this technology use hydrogen and oxygen tanks to generate their own power.
Cars with fuel cell technology have anode and cathode sides, a catalyst electrolyte membrane and an electrical network. Hydrogen is contained in the tank which is pumped to the anode side of the fuel cell, while oxygen from outside the car then enters the cathode side.
Furthermore, the hydrogen atoms will be attracted to the catalyst and split into protons and electrons which then move apart. The hydrogen protons will move through the electrolyte membrane while the electrons will move through the electrical network.
The two components will then meet at the cathode side where oxygen will react to emit water which can then be directly discharged to the outside. In this process, the fuel cell is able to generate electricity which functions to produce an electric motor that drives the vehicle and also generates heat. The fuel cell combustion process is also very clean so it does not involve burning hydrocarbons.
To reduce the effects of global warming which is increasingly worrying, many car manufacturers are currently innovating to create environmentally friendly cars. One of them is by embedding fuel cell technology as an energy source so that it does not produce anything harmful.