Fuel Cells — Green Power
Although fuel cells have been around since 1839, it took 120 years until NASA demonstrated some of their potential applications in providing power during space flight. As a result of these successes, in the 1960s, industry began to recognize the commercial potential of fuel cells, but encountered technical barriers and high investment costs — fuel cells were not economically competitive with existing energy technologies. Since 1984, the Office of Transportation Technologies at the U.S. Department of Energy has been supporting research and development of fuel cell technology, and as a result, hundreds of companies around the world are now working towards making fuel cell technology pay off. Just as in the commercialization of the electric light bulb nearly one hundred years ago, today’s companies are being driven by technical, economic, and social forces such as high performance characteristics, reliability, durability, low cost, and environmental benefits.
In 1797 the English physician George Pearson laboriously charged Leyden jars at his electric machine, then discharged them through water, carefully collecting the gases that appeared. Finally, he mixed the gases in a dry container and made a spark with his machine. Drops of water collected on the walls of the container when it cooled. He had decomposed water into its constituents, and then recombined them again. The world took little notice. In 1800 Alessandro Volta reported the results of his recent studies to the Royal Society of London, of which he was a member. His momentous achievement was the column, or “pile,” of discs of silver, zinc, and leather moistened with salt solution, repeated over and over. An alternative was the couronne des tasses, a ring of cups joined by arcs of silver and zinc alternately, filled with dilute salt solution. When the ultimate members of the pile or crown were connected by a conductor, a permanent electric current flowed. Much care was taken to show that it had the same qualities as the electricity from a static machine, principally that it could give a shock, or fuse a fine wire. Electricity was now available in unprecedented amounts with no exertion, but at a much lower pressure. And so it goes.
The Primer on Lead-Acid Storage Batteries as approved for use by all DOE Components. It was developed to help DOE facility contractors prevent accidents caused during operation and maintenance of lead-acid storage batteries. The major types of lead-acid storage batteries are discussed as well as their operation, application, selection, maintenance, and disposal. Safety hazards and precautions are discussed in the section on battery maintenance. References to industry standards are included for selection, maintenance, and disposal.
P.S. If you haven’t checked out Dr. Nagy’s Electrochemistry Knowledge Base, make sure to head over to the site to see the huge wealth of electrochemical resources that he has curated.