Everything you need to know about buying a fuel cell stack.
Hydrogen fuel cells are more popular than ever. As individuals and companies turn more and more to renewable energy, the global market for fuel cells has grown. Latest estimates put the value of all trade in fuel cells at over billion. But buying a fuel cell can be quite intimidating. This is why we've decided to create a guide to buying your first fuel cell stack.
What’s a Hydrogen Fuel Cell?
What's a hydrogen fuel cell? Hydrogen fuel cells work by combining oxygen and hydrogen to produce electricity. The fuel cell's anode takes in the hydrogen, while the cathode draws in oxygen. A catalyst inside the system causes the two compounds to react - and the result is the creation of water, heat and (most importantly of all) electricity. This electrical current can then be used to power anything from cars to trucks and boats to farm equipment and even airplanes. Hydrogen fuel cells are now more popular than ever, with people attracted by their low emissions and unprecedented efficiency.
What's a hydrogen fuel cell? At its core, a hydrogen fuel cell is a piece of equipment that produces electricity through combining oxygen and hydrogen. The fuel cell's anode takes in the hydrogen, while the cathode draws in oxygen. A catalyst inside the system causes the two compounds to react - and the result is the creation of water, heat and (most importantly of all) electricity. This electricity can then be used to power cars, trucks, boats and even farm equipment. Hydrogen fuel cells are now more popular than ever, with people attracted by their low emissions and unprecedented efficiency.
What’s a Fuel Cell Stack?
A fuel cell stack is very simple, it’s merely a collection of fuel cells ‘stacked’ together. While a single fuel cell generates only a tiny amount of power, multiple fuel cells can increase this energy output significantly. The best fuel cell stacks have over 100 or even 500 fuel cells linked together. This means more hydrogen can be converted into electricity.
Choose the Right Type of Fuel Cell
What fuel cell is right for you? We're here to help.
- Proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells are known for their efficiency, being lightweight, and having an extremely high power density. These are by far the most common type of fuel cell and are used to power things like cars and buses.
- Solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) are different from other types of fuel cells in that they are made completely of solid materials. It's for this reason they're better suited to stationary uses like residential or commercial building power.
- Alkaline fuel cells (AFCs) are by far the oldest type of fuel cell and are mainly used for things like spacecraft. While they don't create a lot of energy, they are highly efficient and reliable.
Choosing the right system for your chosen use is therefore critical when deciding to buy a fuel cell. With comprehensive research and exploration, it's possible to find a fuel cell that has the perfect characteristics for your intended application.
Choosing the Right Size
Making sure you choose the right size is an important considerating then buying a fuel cell. Choose the right size and you can use it perfectly in any application. Choose the wrong size and it either won’t be able to produce enough power or will be too large, heavy and expensive for its intended use.
A good example is a hydrogen-powered car. While these usually demand a power of at least 100kW to 150kW, some hydrogen-powered trucks run on fuel cells with a power output of around 450 kW. Before buying a fuel cell, make sure to research the electricity usage of the intended device you will power.
Installing and Maintaining your Fuel Cell
Installing and maintaining your fuel cell stack can be a complex and challenging task. This is why it’s vital to hire a well-qualified and experienced installer. You should also consider any maintenance costs, as replacing specific components can require training. Buying your stack from a professional seller with plenty of customer support is crucial, as if anything goes wrong they will be on hand to fix the issue.
Consider the Cost of Hydrogen
Depending on your location, hydrogen can be expensive or relatively cheap. China, for instance, has relatively inexpensive hydrogen. Government incentives and subsidies and private investment in production have drastically reduced the cost of hydrogen. Japan, meanwhile, is home to rather expensive hydrogen due to the high cost of electricity needed for hydrogen generators (electrolyzers). Depending on location, prices can range from around to over per kilogram. Factoring in the cost of hydrogen in your area is therefore essential in calculating the actual price of running a fuel cell stack.