Many experts believe that we will soon be using fuel cells to generate electrical power for everyday use. (1) It is a clean form of energy, generating only power, heat and water. Fuel cell technology has a wide range of uses, ranging from transportation to emergency backup power, and can power systems as massive as a power plant or as tiny as a laptop. And unlike batteries, a fuel cell doesn’t require periodic recharge and instead continues to generate energy as long as a fuel source is available.
This basics section presents a general overview of fuel cells.
A fuel cell is a device that generates electricity and heat by combining a fuel source, such as hydrogen, with an oxidant (usually oxygen). Each fuel cell has an anode and a cathode. The reactions that produce electricity take place at these electrodes. Each fuel cell also includes an electrolyte that transports electrically charged particles between the electrodes and a catalyst that accelerates the reactions between the electrodes.
The hydrogen fuel cell uses a chemical reaction to generate power. Below is a breakdown of how it works: Hydrogen atoms enter the anode while oxygen atoms enter the cathode.
SFC fuel cells use DMFC (Direct Methanol Fuel Cell) technology. This means they generate power from the fuel in the fuel cartridge (methanol), supplemented by oxygen from the air. The process creates waste heat and water vapour while emitting minimal carbon dioxide, reducing fuel cell environmental impact.
Hydrogen and fuel cell technologies offer cost-effective and ecologically responsible ways of meeting our energy needs.
When used in a combined heat and power system, stationary fuel cells can have an efficiency level greater than 80%. SFC fuel energy cells regularly monitor the battery’s charge status and automatically recharge it. As a result, the power of the application is never interrupted. (3)
When hydrogen is used to power a fuel cell, the only by-products are water and heat—no pollutants or greenhouse gases. (4) Even when using fossil fuels to power a fuel cell, emissions are considerably reduced compared to conventional fossil fuel-powered energy.
Most fuel cells operate silently, making them ideal for use. Thanks to their quiet and emission-free functioning, SFC fuel cells are the modern task forces’ number one choice.
Depending on the type of fuel cell, they can be employed virtually anywhere. The SFC fuel cell is durable and designed to withstand the hardships of field use. The fuel cell is also suitable for usage at high elevations, in adverse environmental conditions and throughout the day or night. The high mobility of the fuel cell is a major advantage.
Several sources can generate hydrogen, including waste, biomass, wind, solar, tidal, wave and geothermal energy.
Hydrogen fuel cells have numerous applications, including powering homes and businesses and moving vehicles such as fuel cell powered cars, buses and trains. Some examples of fuel cell applications include the following:
Fuel cells provide power for a wide range of commercial, industrial and household applications. These include everything from residential spaces to spacecraft and task force operations. Portable fuel cell systems can be used for various applications, from powering small devices to generating lots of power in remote regions. Mobile devices like laptops, for example, benefit from higher energy density and weight reductions over lithium-ion batteries.
Fuel cells are very reliable because they don’t have any moving parts. There is also less than one minute of downtime per six years under ideal conditions, which equates to 99.9999% reliability of fuel cells. (5)
Fuel cells apply to a vast number of modes of transport. Because of the ability to generate immense power in a small device, a fuel cell electric vehicle could drive substantially further than an all-electric car. (6) Additionally, it is the most environmentally friendly fuel.
SFC Energy AG has positioned itself as a pioneer and important innovation driver in the fuel cell technology market. With its direct methanol fuel cells from the EFOY, EMILY and JENNY product series, it covers the high requirements of its customers in the best possible way. The power units have a power range from 25 W up to 1.5 kW. With the EFOY Hydrogen, SFC Energy also has a hydrogen fuel cell for high power requirements from 1.5 kW up to 50 kW in its product portfolio. This already impressively demonstrates that fuel cell technology is powerful enough to satisfy the energy needs of both private and professional users. In this respect, they are in no way inferior to conventional energy producers. On the contrary. Compared to combustion engines, fuel cell technology has other decisive advantages. The biggest is certainly their environmental friendliness. While conventional generators emit harmful exhaust gases such as nitrogen oxides (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO) and also fine dust, the hydrogen fuel cell only produces waste heat and water vapour as by-products.
At the same time, fuel cell technology operates far more quietly than conventional combustion units. It thus facilitates work during maintenance operations and makes an important contribution in terms of health and safety at the workplace. Fuel cell technology is therefore quieter during operation because it has almost no mechanical parts. Therefore, the noise emissions of the fuel cell technology of about 45 dB(A) correspond to the noise level of a quiet flat or birds chirping. Without moving, i.e. mechanical parts, fuel cell technology has yet another advantage: It is far less subject to wear than combustion engines. Maintenance work is reduced to a minimum. This also applies to refuelling. Fuel cell technology gets by with the operating fuel (methanol or hydrogen) for longer than conventional generators. In the case of direct methanol fuel cells – as with the EFOY fuel cell mode of operation – no special or lengthy training of personnel is required to replace the canisters. Users can easily carry out the exchange themselves. This is a weighty argument, because the ecological and economical mode of operation of fuel cell technology reduces time expenditure and operating costs.
More and more private users as well as professional user sectors from industry, the mobility sector or telecommunications are becoming aware of the numerous advantages of fuel cell technology compared to energy generators based on fossil fuels. No wonder, because as a true multi-talent, fuel cell technology offers sustainable solutions for almost every requirement. Whether as the core of tomorrow’s mobility or in stationary systems. In e-mobility, it offers a decisive advantage over battery-powered models: Long loading times are eliminated. Vehicles that rely on fuel cell technology can be refuelled just as quickly as a petrol-powered one. The range problem is also of no consequence. With a full hydrogen tank, the vehicle can travel about 500 to 600 kilometres. Large automobile companies have been working on powering vehicles with fuel cell technology since the early 1990s. So far, however, with moderate success. The main problem with cars with fuel cell technology is the high production costs. This is due, among other things, to the expensive platinum used. This is another reason why SFC Energy relies on recycling the components. Fuel cells by SFC Energy are 95 per cent recyclable.
While the adaptation of fuel cell technology for mobile applications is once again coming into focus, it has already become indispensable for numerous stationary systems. Above all, it serves as a reliable energy generator far from the conventional power grid. In critical infrastructures such as mobile phone masts of the digital public authority radio (BOSNet), the EFOY Hydrogen Fuel Cell 2.5 from SFC Energy acts as an emergency power generator. In the future, it can make an important contribution to autonomous driving in the same capacity. The vehicles must communicate with the repeater stations. An uninterrupted connection is necessary for this. If the power ever fails, the EFOY Hydrogen steps in as an emergency generator. In stationary smart traffic applications, fuel cell technology powers the flexible traffic signs. For private users, the EFOY direct methanol fuel cell – hybridised with the EFOY lithium battery if required – ensures a power supply on board motor homes, sailing boats and holiday cabins away from the conventional power grid. These are just a few of the many possible applications of SFC Energy’s fuel cell technology.
Fuel Cell Power: A Realistic Path to Clean Energy
Hydrogen fuel cells are gaining traction as a high-potential technology that can significantly improve energy efficiency and decarbonisation in various industries, including automotive and defence.
SFC Energy AG is a leading fuel cell company specialising in direct methanol and hydrogen fuel cells for stationary and mobile hybrid power applications and a profitable fuel cell manufacturer on a sustainable basis. The company’s products have been MIL-STD tested and are built to endure the rigours of field operation. Visit SFC Energy to discover a range of reliable and highly durable fuel cells engineered to meet the unique requirements for military and security operations.