Do Fuel Cells Have a Future As Portable Batteries?

In today’s fast-paced society, people are constantly trying to find new sources of energy. With a high increase in population growth, as well as a need to find a sustainable energy sources, many people are looking towards fuel cells, particularly in battery applications.

What is a Fuel Cell?

Fuel cells are simply devices that generate electricity through chemical reactions. Typically, fuel cells are comprised of hydrogen and oxygen. They produce a chemical reaction that creates a large amount of energy. One of the great things about fuel cells is the fact that they have a very low impact on the environment. They release no carbon emissions at all.

What are the Limitations of Fuel Cells as Used in Portable Batteries?

Even though the science behind fuel cells is relatively simple, the process of creating fuel cells is actually quite difficult. Since the rise of their popularity in the 1980’s scientists have been trying to design many different types and models of fuel cells in search of one that is efficient and safe. Specific to portable batteries, the size limitations of fuel cells creates a large obstacle. The primary material of fuel cells is hydrogen and hydrogen is not very energy dense when compared to fossil fuels. This means that a fuel cell would theoretically have to be much larger when using hydrogen.
However, scientists are continually working to improve the prospects of fuel cell technology. Currently, the most frequently used type of battery is the lithium ion battery. Though these batteries can be made small and are very reliable, they are not living up to the performance demands that come from today’s modern electronics. Many technology experts say that our electronic technology is rapidly outpacing our battery technology, creating a serious need for better battery technology.
As scientists continue to research, we may see fuel cell batteries in the future. The environmental benefits, coupled with the relative abundance of hydrogen on the planet calls for more research to be done to make fuel cells more efficient and smaller. The popularization of fuel cells in modern day electronics could create an energy revolution, allowing for longer lasting devices without the need to constantly recharge. Fuel cell batteries may also be the answer to today’s growing pollution problems. As the world population increases, demand for better fuel cell batteries will certainly increase, spurring new scientific advances in fuel cell technology.