Keywords: energy conversion and power generation, environment, fuel cells, energy conversion efficiency, pollutant emissions
Fuel cells - the environmentally friendly energy converter and power generator
Heat engines based on fossil fuel combustion produce harmful pollutant emissions. Environmental concerns and sustainable development call for new technology for energy conversion and power generation, which is more efficient, environmentally friendly and compatible with alternative fuels and renewable energy sources and carriers. Fuel cells meet all these requirements and are being rapidly developed as one of the primary energy technologies of the future. This study deals with energy-environment interaction, energy conversion efficiency of fuel cells and heat engines, and theoretical and practical issues concerning the development and applications of fuel cell technology. In this regard, thermodynamic performance of fuel cells are analysed, misnomers about fuel cell efficiency are clarified, types of fuel cells and their current status are described and future energy-environment interaction discussed.