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After the discovery in 1839 of the “fuel cell” effect (FC), it was only in 1953 that a prototype of a 1kW hydrogen fuel cell was produced.

The “hydrogen cell” is a zero waste “fuel cell”, since it is the seat of a controlled electrochemical combustion of hydrogen and oxygen, generating electricity and heat, with water as the only waste product.

Although long eclipsed by the electric accumulator (battery), the hydrogen fuel cell became, from 1977, less expensive and of a certain ecological interest, thanks to the progressive reduction of platinum (a highly polluting and expensive metal) contained in the polymers of the membranes equipping the hydrogen fuel cells. Moreover, in 2010, researchers proposed a less polluting and more economical catalyst.

The production of hydrogen obtained by electrolysis of water using electricity of photovoltaic origin, makes the hydrogen fuel cell a generator of green energy, ideally clean. Promising applications include hydrogen-powered cars; in all likelihood, they will soon be widely preferred to battery-powered electric cars, which unfortunately require many rare metals whose extraction remains particularly polluting. Moreover, for equal weight, hydrogen is three times more energetic than oil.

Various techniques are in the running, including the so-called “proton exchange membrane” (PEMFC) technique, generally used for large vehicles.

Currently, hydrogen fuel cells are made up of a set of cells, each generating a voltage of approximately 0.6 to 0.9V. It should be noted that, depending on models and efficiency choices, their operating temperature varies from 60 to 200°C.

Dependent on a particular value of the product “voltage x current” determining the optimal power of the hydrogen fuel cell in operation, each constituent cell is characterized by the current flowing through it and by the voltage at its terminals.

Despite relative standardization, it is prudent, both in the study phase and during operation, to monitor the minimum voltage of certain cells, which may be relatively weak, in order to act, for example, on the load’s servo-controls.

To make your task easier, we suggest our malfunction detector, manufactured in a resistant and waterproof mini-case. Self-powered and adjustable, it is perfectly adapted to the individual monitoring of critical fuel cell cells. The goal being always to optimize the overall efficiency of the FC.

For more information, please see our threshold detector of the critical voltage of any hydrogen fuel-cell cell.

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