How does a fuel cell work? – Naked Science Scrapbook

Fuel cells may be a major energy source of the future, but how do they work? In the latest Naked Science Scrapbook, we find out how to generate electricity from hydrogen, how fuel cells helped man to get to the moon, and how you could use one to heat your water at home…More videos and podcasts from

20 thoughts on “How does a fuel cell work? – Naked Science Scrapbook”

  1. hydrogen fuel cells are a bad idea their are waaaaaayyyyy to many steps and dangerous compared to electrically powered cars

  2. Fuel cells are dumb. They're pretty much REALLY expensive batteries, or rather, a HHO generator in reverse. You need to split the hydrogen and oxygen from water apart to run the fuel cell that joins the hydrogen and oxygen back together to make water. So effectively it's a water-energy economy, and given the third law of thermodynamics it's a very lossy economy, to the order of a 80% each way loss, so you get 2 kW for every 10 kW of energy wasted

  3. Potentially explosive?
    Split a hydrogen tank in half and the gas will be potentially for the few seconds it would take to disperse below its flash point. Split a Gasoline tank in half and the spilt fuel will remain combustible and potentially explosive for many hours.
    Stop thinking in the terms of the HindenBurg.

  4. Basically, it loses electrons. Opposites attract, so I understand it as the hydrogen losing electrons, which are negative, which causes it to become a positive ion that travels to the cathode.

  5. the hydrogens release electrons producing H+
    than the H+ are combined with O2 making H2O. What I don't understand how could it be stable? you need 8 electrons to make it stable, since there are no any electrons in the hydrogen+ molecules, you don't have enough electrons

  6. Hey Anish, I had the same question. From what I understand, the catalysts are responsible for stripping the electrode in the anode, and also recombining the electron with the water in the cathode. Catalysis looks pretty complicated, but it's where you'd start if you want understand more. 


Leave a Comment

3 × 1 =