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Hydrogen fuel cells transform chemical energy of fuel into power without utilizing low-effective, high-loss combustion processes and transformation of thermal energy into mechanical energy. As a result of highly efficient cold fuel combustion, this electrochemical device generates electric power. A hydrogen-air fuel cell with a proton-exchange membrane (PEMFC) is one of the most efficient perspective technologies of fuel cells.
A proton-conducting polymer membrane separates two electrodes, an anode and a cathode. Each electrode represents a coal plate (matrix) with catalyst applied. On the anode catalyst, molecular hydrogen dissociates and yields electrons. Hydrogen cations are passed through the membrane to the cathode, but electrons are yielded to the external circuit, since the membrane does not let the electrons to pass through.
On the cathode catalyst, the oxygen molecule associates with the electron (supplied to the electrical circuit) and the arrived proton and forms water that is the only product of reaction (in the form of steam and/or liquid).