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Are DIY Fuel Cells Worth the Price?

Everything you need to know about DIY Fuel Cells, their price, and how you can use them

What’s a DIY Fuel Cell?

Before we get into the details of the price of DIY Fuel Cell, let’s explore what exactly a DIY Fuel Cell is. While a DIY Fuel Cell can mean 'Hacking' a conventional fuel cell to make it more efficient, the most common meaning is an educational kit in which students construct their very own fuel cell-powered system.

These so-called ‘STEM Kits’ often include an array of renewable energy technologies – such as fuel cells, solar and wind energy – in allowing students to explore different types of solutions to climate change. Often these STEM Kits provide students with the opportunity to directly apply renewable energy technology to different applications, like using a fuel cell to power a 1:20 scale model car.  The ‘DIY’ element here comes from the sense of ownership students have when using and integrating their fuel cell in the car in their own unique way.

This ‘DIY’ fuel cell process is particularly visible in the H2GP XPR program – which allows students aged 7-10 to use a PEM fuel cell to construct a miniature hydrogen-powered car out of whatever materials they choose. Kids often opt to use recycled water bottles, 3D-printed acrylic plastics, or even hand-cut wood as car frames. In this sense they create a truly DIY Fuel Cell car, using hands-on skills, creativity and intuition to come up with whatever design they can imagine.

DIY Fuel cell cars

But are DIY Fuel Cells Worth the Price?

Fuel cells are known for being quite expensive. This begs the question: are DIY Fuel Cells worth the cost?

It’s easy to see why they may not be. The average fuel cell is designed as an industrial or commercial system – often costing thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars. In the past decade, however, things have started to change. Companies around the world have begun to manufacture small, light, portable fuel cells that can be used by students in various school-based DIY projects.

While most fuel cells have a price in the range of one to ten thousand dollars – these DIY Fuel Cells cost as little as $ 60 or $ 70 – and are even cheaper when bought in bulk. This means children around the world can experience the fun, excitement and joy of learning about fuel cells and renewable energy while schools can keep within their science class budgets.

At the end of the day, the individual school, company or parent must decide if DIY Fuel Cells are truly worth the price – but as the global economy transitions to renewable energy, an investment into children's renewable energy education is likely to pay off.

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