As oil and gasoline prices rise, much hay is being made regarding the possibilities of power cells as a solution to our oil addictions. Here’s a basic primer on power cells.
Power Cells As Alternative To Oil
More than a few politicians have argued that power cells have the potential to cure all our energy problems. They argue power cells offer clean, efficient alternatives to the gasoline and oil burning combustion engine we all use in our vehicles. They also argue that switching to power cells will go a long way to dealing with global warming issues since this form of power does not produce the greenhouse gases seen with oil products. Instead, they produce water and heat. For once, the politicians may just be right for once.
Power cells use hydrogen or hydrogen derived sources to create electricity. Much like a single solar cell is not particularly good at producing power, a single power cell produces a fraction of the energy required to power most things of consequence. Like solar, the cell must be combined with others to get the necessary production. Temperature and the pressure of the hydrogen are also factors. To really make things work, such as a car, most power cells are actually a combination of hundreds or thousands of sub-cells. This, of course, results in problems of storage and stability. The more cells there are, the more space they take up. The more cells there are sitting next to each other, the hotter they get.
The current problems with these hydrogen power cells are numerous. They do not produce power on a cost-effective basis. They have not proven to be particularly durable, which means the need to replace them fairly frequently runs up the cost of owning them. A practical, but significant, problem is how to store and provide the hydrogen to users on a daily basis. Hydrogen can be unstable, which makes for big, pretty and expensive bangs. Most of these problems, however, will be overcome as technology progresses.
Once technology advances, the applications power cells can be used for are nearly endless. They can be used to run your laptop or your car. They can be used to provide electricity and heat in your home as well as your business. In our technology crazed society, they will even power your cell phones. If it can be run on electricity, power cells should be able to make it work.
Power cells aren’t the current answer to our oil problem, but that may change in the relatively short future.