Are fuel cells environmentally friendly? Not always!

Watts Up With That?

Fuel crucial for life cycle assessment

From the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (EMPA)

fuel_cell_still[1] Image from Fuel cells are regarded as the technology of the future for both cars and household heating systems. As a result, they have a key role to play in the switch to renewable energies. But are fuel cells always more environmentally friendly? An international team of scientists headed by Empa performed a series of calculations and reached a conclusion: it depends on the fuel.

In the future, we might be driving fuel-cell cars that burn solar-generated hydrogen. This would make the “zero emissions car” a reality. At the same time, small combined heat and power units – also based on fuel cell technology – could be placed in our cellars at home. They convert natural gas and biogas into electricity while generating heat as an added “bonus” to warm the building.

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