Fuel Cells, an Alternative Energy Source to Power our Nation

What are fuel cells?

Fuel cells are electrochemical devices that combine hydrogen and oxygen in order to produce electricity.

During the power generation cycle, water and heat are produced as a by-products.  This is a far more ideal byproduct than the unclean emissions which are created by other methods of generating electricity.

Fuel Cells will operate and generate power so long as fuel is supplied.  Since the conversion of the fuel to energy takes place via an electrochemical process, and not by combustion, the process is clean, quiet, and highly efficient – two to three times more efficient than regular combustion, such as that done by gasoline in a generator.

Fuel Cell technology is unique as a power technology – no other energy generation technology offers the combination of benefits that fuel cells do.  In addition to extremely low or zero emissions (depending on the type of fuel cells used), some of the main benefits of fuel cells include:

  • High efficiency and reliability
  • Multi-fuel capability
  • Durability
  • Scalability
  • Ease of maintenance

Since fuel cells generate power through a chemical process, they operate silently.  Thus, they reduce noise pollution as well as air pollution.  Heat generated by fuels cells in the process of generating electricity can be captured and used to provide hot water or space heating for a home or office, in larger applications.

Another key aspect of fuel cells technology is that the cells can be scaled to any size required, without difficulty. Small fuel cells can be produced to power cell phones for up to 30 days or to operate laptops for twenty hours or more.  Large fuel cells can be produced to operate as power plants, in order to provide electricity for small cities.   And of course, there are many sizes in between.

The most notable use of fuel cells currently being developed is the use of fuel cells as a replacement for the combustion engine. It is very likely that cars and other vehicles will be powered by fuel cells in the not too distant future.

In light of the above, the U.S. Department of Energy (COE) is running a program in order to research and develop this technology further.  The DOE considers fuel cells an important enabling technology for the hydrogen economy. It states that they have the potential to revolutionize the way we power our nation, by offering cleaner and more-efficient alternatives to the combustion of gasoline and other fossil fuels.

The DOE also considers that fuel cells have the potential to replace internal-combustion engines in vehicles, and to provide power in stationary and portable power applications because they are energy-efficient, clean, and fuel-flexible.

Currently the DOE is working closely with its national laboratories, universities, and industry partners across the United States to overcome critical technical barriers to fuel cell commercialization.  It is currently focused on the development of reliable, low-cost, high-performance fuel cell system components, for transportation and buildings applications.

The first fuel-cell operated cars are currently being piloted.  The first commercially available fuel cell operated cars are predicted to hit the consumer market by 2012.

By | 2014-11-10T12:50:18-08:00 January 5th, 2009|Alternative Energy|

About the Author:

Megan helps others understand how they can use green technologies and tecniques to live cleaner and healthier lives, utilize natural resources, and adopt environmentally friendly living standards.


  1. Daniel@hydrogencarkit June 18, 2010 at 8:33 am

    Hey Anna,

    Fuel Cells can burn nearly anything, Bloom energy’s is is running on gas…

    but it is the most efficient way to burn Hydrogen to energy, yes…

    Sorry, just had an exchange with Bloom, that wass new for me, too 😉


    All you need to break free from the Energy Grid, greed and coming price explosion.

    Hydrogen Car Kit

    Using (rotten) wood for generating energy is the exactly same method already used in Neanderthal. Last time I checked they were gone…

  2. generatorsforhomeuse February 13, 2010 at 3:16 am

    I think in todays climate, be that political or environmental, having an alternative power source is key. We are all to exposed to the frailty of national infrastructures. There are many alternative power solutions for the home and using fuel cells is certainly a good one

  3. Melody November 2, 2009 at 7:48 pm

    Fuel cells certainly appear to be promising, but there seem to be many limiting factors. I’m no technical expert, but we seem to be years away from fully employing fuel cells as a mainstream power source.

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  5. Wal-Mart and Greentech Media are sponsoring a conference to help suppliers prepare for Sustainability Product Index — Source and Resource August 18, 2009 at 8:31 pm

    […] Greg previously remarked here on Source and Resource, the company’s new audacious and ambitious Sustainability Index involves 15 questions to […]

  6. Michelle February 25, 2009 at 8:00 pm

    I agree with you Cheryl. I’m really glad this site exists to help spread the word about the proper use and effectiveness of natural remedies.

  7. Cheryl February 24, 2009 at 5:20 pm

    Thanks for visiting, Michelle, and for bringing your professional viewpoint. Your clients are fortunate to have someone watching their intake of herbs. It’s funny when people are so careful to take, for example, an antibiotic from their doctor on an exact schedule, and I’ve known people to set their watches to sound a little alarm when it’s time to take a pill. But leftover herbs are often found in the back of the cupboard. The respect that has been accorded to pharmaceutical medication might be better directed to natural remedies.

  8. Michelle February 24, 2009 at 4:51 pm

    I can certainly relate to hearing some people say that “herbal remedies don’t work” when in fact they haven’t taken enough herbs to make much difference. I’m an herbalist and I can tell how much herbs my client’s are taking by the frequency at which they re-order their formulas. They can’t fool me when they say they take their formula according to schedule!

  9. Jordan January 20, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    I think fuels cells are the future when it comes to alternative energy methods of power.

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