Powering a Home with Fuel Cells

A household fuel cell cogeneration system is a new way to generate electricity and heat. The system can be installed on-site at individual residences, and uses the electrochemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen to produce energy. It is, essentially, an environmentally friendly power plant for the home. The hydrogen required can come from natural gas piped into residences, where available; the oxygen is provided by the ambient air. Such a system generates electric power with high efficiency even when the required electrical output is low, and is expected to help increase energy savings and decrease CO2 emissions.
Panasonic Corporation is developing a household fuel cell cogeneration system called Ene-Farm. The company needs to overcome the challenges of system cost and reliability before widespread deployment. Reducing cost requires a better understanding of how hydrogen ions flow through the membranes in the membrane electrode assembly (MEA) that is the heart of a polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell (PEMFC).

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