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A fuel cell is a device that directly converts the chemical energy of reactants (a fuel and an oxidant) into low d. c. electricity . Used in conjunction with other sustainable energy options, hydrogen and fuel cell technology can provide a realistic alternative to fossil fuels. Although research is continuing in many areas we are no closer now to commercialisation than ten to twenty years ago. This is due to a number of key reasons, some of which include efficiency, scale, accessories and power output. This paper outlines the benefits that could be derived from switching to a hydrogen based economy and the commercialisation of hydrogen fuel cells as a clean and environmentally friendly alternative. It looks in general at the fuel cell, outlines its origin, how it operates, and the wide range of fuel cells available. The paper also compares the alkaline fuel cell (AFC) with the proton exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMFC) as options for low temperature applications. In particular, the paper focuses on the research being conducted by the Dublin Institute of Technology into alkaline fuel cell technology and outlines the systems capabilities and limitations.
Brunton, J., Kennedy, D., Coyle, E.: Alkaline fuel cell engineering and testing. International Conference on Materials, Tribology and Processing, MATRIB, Croatia. 2006.