Fuel Cell cars are a major part of the fleet of Zero-Emission Vehicles. The fuel cells are fueled with pure hydrogen and hence they are considered to be zero emission vehicles. Fuel cells have been used on spacecraft for many years to power electric equipment. These are fueled with liquid hydrogen from the spacecraft's rocket fuel tanks. Basic Mechanics
Fuel cell vehicles turn hydrogen fuel and oxygen into electricity. The electricity then powers an electric motor, just like electricity from batteries powers the motor of an electric vehicle. Fuel cells combine oxygen from the air with hydrogen from the vehicle's fuel tank to produce electricity. When oxygen and hydrogen are combined they give off energy and water (H2O). In fuel cells this is done without any burning (combustion). Fuel Storage
There are a number of ways that hydrogen can be provided to the fuel cell. One way is simply to put hydrogen gas into the fuel cell, along with air. Hydrogen gas can come from gaseous or liquid hydrogen stored on the vehicle. To carry gaseous hydrogen on a vehicle, it must be compressed. When compressed (usually to a pressure of about 3000 pounds per square inch), it must be stored in special high-pressure containers. The other way to provide hydrogen gas to the fuel cell is to store it on the vehicle in liquid form. To make hydrogen liquid, it is chilled and compressed. Liquid hydrogen is very, very cold--more than 423.2 degrees Fahrenheit below zero. Another way to get hydrogen to the fuel cell is to use a "reformer". A reformer is a device that removes the hydrogen from hydrocarbon fuels, like methanol or gasoline. When a fuel other than hydrogen is used, the fuel cell is no longer zero-emission, but it still may be very low emitting. Major parts of a fuel cell
The anode, the negative post of the fuel cell, has several jobs. It conducts the electrons that are freed from the hydrogen molecules so that they can be used in an external circuit. It has...