Fuel cells produce electrical energy by using the oxygen available in the air. They do not actually “burn” anything, the electricity is generated as a by-product of the oxidation/reduction reaction that takes place within the fuel cell. Advantages of fuel cells include silent and pollution-free operation – the only reaction products are water vapour, electrical current and heat.
Types of fuel cell are named according to the medium that carries the charge (the electrolyte). Hydrocell’s fuel cells are based on a cylindrical electrode which provides a strong and lightweight unit. The electrolyte employed is a gel that we have developed ourselves. Use of this type of electrolyte means that Hydrocell fuel cells are well suited to a wide variety of applications – they can be used in any orientation without any risk that the electrolyte will leak out. Gel-type electrolytes can also store, release and transport the water released during operation.
Hydrocell fuel cells usually contain internal metal-hydride hydrogen storage which can safely store 40 dm3 of hydrogen using only moderate pressure. As they feature this internal hydrogen storage capacity, Hydrocell fuel cells are also called fuel cell batteries, because using them is just as easy as using a lead-acid or other type of battery.
Fuel cells do not store electrical energy. To produce electrical current, they just need fuel in the same way that a car engine does. The difference is that in operation, a fuel cell is completely silent and pollution-free, and that the fuel is packaged in a safe, low-pressure storage chamber. These are available in two standard sizes: the HC-MH200 has the dimensions of a soft drink can and can produce 480 Wh (12 V, 40 Ah) of electrical energy. The HC-MH1200, a larger unit, is the size of a small fire extinguisher and can produce 2600 Wh (12 V, 220 Ah) of energy.
Fuel cells and different storage units offer significantly higher energy densities than are possible with conventional traditional accumulator technology. The basic unit is one fuel HC-100 cell battery and one HC-MH200 storage unit. Modular units that consist of several fuel cells are available, such as the HC-400 (four fuel cells). The HC-100 delivers 12 V DC. Power pack units are fitted with an inverter (300W – 1000W ) and a small lead-acid battery as a buffer.