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Handbook of Energy by Christopher G. Morris, Cutler J. Cleveland

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Section 18

Fuel Cells

A fuel cell converts the chemical energy in a fuel into electricity through a chemical reaction with oxygen or another oxidizing agent. Hydrogen is the most common fuel, but hydrocarbons such as natural gas and alcohols like methanol are also used. One advantage of fuel cells is that they generate electricity with very little pollution; much of the hydrogen and oxygen used in generating electricity ultimately combine to form water. The environmental impact depends largely on the method used to produce the hydrogen or other fuel input. Fuel cells are different from batteries in that they require a constant source of fuel and oxygen/air to sustain the chemical reaction, but they run more or less continuously so long as the ...

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