How Small Fuel Cells are Revolutionizing Education
Did you know small fuel cells are transforming the world of education? While traditional, large fuel cells are used for powering cars, trucks, and even entire buildings, their small counterparts offer different benefits. These mini fuel cells might not be able to power large industrial equipment, but they offer tons of other benefits. Kids can learn how the technology works in action. They can apply what they’ve learned in the classroom to the real world, understanding how fuel cells work in an entire clean energy system. And they can get an understanding of the complete hydrogen value chain, from production to storage to practical use.
Advantages of Small Fuel Cells for Education
One of the most popular small fuel cells on the market today is called a ‘PEM Reversible Fuel Cell’. This tiny 2-inch x 2-inch device not only allows you to transform hydrogen gas and air into usable electricity, but it also acts as an electrolyzer so kids can create their very own hydrogen from pure water.
These miniature fuel cells are a great way to introduce students to renewable energy technologies. They can power anything from a small, table-top H2GP car to entire demonstration-size wind turbines. The electrolyzer can be powered by a miniature solar panel that sits on top of a classroom desk.
The fact kids can easily handle these fuel cells makes them perfect for learning about science and technology. By assembling, wiring, and integrating these fuel cells in an entire miniature energy system, students can apply the scientific principles they’ve learned in the classroom to real-world, hands-on scenarios.
As educational researchers often tell us, hands-on learning engages both the right and left sides of the brain. The left side handles listening and analytical processes, while the right side processes visual and spatial experiences. This means as young students develop, working with small fuel cells can instill not only knowledge about renewable energy, but help shape wider cognitive development as well.
The Complete Hydrogen Value Chain
Because small fuel cells can be easily integrated into entire model energy systems, students can learn about hydrogen production, storage and use. In the H2GP XPR program, students produce hydrogen using the PEM Reversible Fuel Cell, store it in specifically designated containers, before using it to power H2GP XPR racecars. This means they understand the complete hydrogen value chain on a miniature scale, preparing them for future careers in a variety of clean energy industries.
Limitations of Small Fuel Cells
It might go without saying, but small fuel cells are limited by their power capacity. The PEM Reversible Fuel Cell, for instance, has a power output of 0.6V. While this is fantastic for applications like powering a small, table-top demonstration car, anything that requires more power will need a larger fuel cell.
Lifespan can also be a limiting factor. While some fuel cells have a lifespan of 10 to 20 years (with proper maintenance), small, classroom-size fuel cells often last two to three years of constant use. While this is more than enough for classroom education, you wouldn’t use a small PEM Reversible Fuel Cell for an industrial application. If you’re after larger amounts of power and industrial reliability, the 65kW Liquid Coole FC System VL-Series is capable of releasing 65kW of clean power for decades.
So while you might not use a small fuel cell to power the next hydrogen submarine, they are a perfect way to introduce students to the exciting world of clean energy. This is even more important considering the world will need an array of future engineers, technicians and specialists in order to make the transition to a zero-carbon economy.