Fuel cells are defined as devices that convert chemical energy into heat and electric power. However, depending on their type, fuel cells have special features that can be used advantageously in for instance the chemical process industry of which examples will be given. Nevertheless these new applications use existing fuel cells like the MCFC. This is very exiting and many new possibilities are yet to be explored. However there is no principle reason why we should limit fuel cell technology to present types and the well known fuels like hydrogen, methane and methanol and air as oxidant. Recently interest in the direct conversion of carbon as a fuel has revived which has led to the development of a DCFC (direct carbon fuel cell) based on MCFC technology. Lawrence Livermore National Lab has demonstrated the DCFC successfully on a bench scale size. Also H2S is considered as a fuel. Further ahead opportunities are to be explored by replacing exothermic reaction in the chemical process industry such as partial oxidation reactions by their electrochemical counterpart. Thereby electricity is generated instead of excessive waste heat. Now that fuel cell technology is getting mature we can think of adopting this technology in new dedicated fuel cell types, with relatively short development trajectories, for application in totally new fields where electricity may just be a by-product.
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Fuel Cells: What’s Up Next?
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Hemmes, K. "Fuel Cells: What’s Up Next?." Proceedings of the ASME 2003 1st International Conference on Fuel Cell Science, Engineering and Technology. 1st International Fuel Cell Science, Engineering and Technology Conference. Rochester, New York, USA. April 21–23, 2003. pp. 9-19. ASME. https://doi.org/10.1115/FUELCELL2003-1696
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