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What is all the fuss about hydrogen fuel?

By Datron_Group 11/07/2023

AFC Energy Case Study

Hydrogen Fuel

The race to find a source of clean renewable energy has been the topic of discussion ever since we became aware of the affect fossil fuels have on our environment. The hole in the ozone layer, discovered in 1985 by a junior researcher at BAS, kickstarted a movement to protect our planet by conserving energy and reducing our carbon footprint.

As well as swapping out our halogens for LEDs, and choosing to walk instead of taking the car, there has been significant investment into a “forever” solution to our oil-hungry habits. That solution is a pollution-free, versatile, abundant gas, hydrogen. But nothing comes for free, and producing hydrogen doesn’t come without its challenges.

The most common method of producing hydrogen involves reforming natural gas, which emits carbon dioxide as a by-product. While there are cleaner methods of hydrogen production using renewable energy, such as electrolysis, these methods can be energy-intensive and costly. Developing efficient and sustainable hydrogen production methods is a significant challenge.

The infrastructure to manage commercialised hydrogen power also comes with its own problems. Hydrogens volumetric energy density is very low, meaning large areas are needed to store it. High pressure or low temperature environments can solve this problem; however, you’re now using energy to store your energy.

How do hydrogen fuel cells work?

Now we get into the technical side, how a hydrogen fuel cell actually works. Firstly you need fuel, this is in the form of hydrogen (H2), and oxygen (O2). Then you must separate the hydrogens protons and electrons, the protons then travel through a material called the electrolyte, towards the cathode. The electrons however, cannot pass through the electrolyte, and must take a different route, this is the point at which a current is formed and can deliver power. The protons and electrons meet back up at the cathode, along with some oxygen. The oxygen reacts with the protons and electrons, creating the by-product, H20.

How Datron assists in the development of hydrogen fuel technology

AFC Energy is a leading supplier of hydrogen fuel cells in the UK. Their focus is on using an alkaline electrolyte to generate electricity from hydrogen and oxygen. At their facility in Cranleigh, they design, test, manufacture, and distribute the latest hydrogen fuel cell technology for off grid power.

Datron is proud to be a part of the AFC journey to net zero. A Datron dispensing machine is used to apply an adhesive layer in order to assemble the fuel cell. They use many electrolytes and cathodes, to deliver the highest electrical current. It is paramount that the construction of their unique design is repeatable, so a Datron dispensing machine is the perfect tool for the job. With a Z- height laser mapping system, the machine dispenses a precise bead of unique adhesive maintaining a consistent bead height and width across any height variations within the material.

With the climate crisis, and the cost of living casting a scary shadow onto our day to day lives, we must plan for a cleaner and more sustainable future. That’s why we are so proud to support the companies, like AFC Energy, that are making that future a reality.