The basic operation starts with the proton-rich fuel flowing through the anode or fuel side of the membrane electrode assembly (MEA). This is represented by the two black catalysts and the red ionomeric membrane in the figure above. Hydrogen peroxide then naturally flows through the oxidant or cathode side of the cell. Hydrogen ions break off of the fuel and then move through the MEA to react with the hydrogen peroxide, forming water. In the process, they break their bonds and free the electrons associated with those bonds. This creates a potential difference across the cell.
Advantages of Fuel Cells
Liquid-liquid closed loop system: There are more complications present in a fuel cell system when hydrogen needs to be taken out of other chemicals and gases are used. They often need to be pressurized, and in the case of hydrogen are very prone to escaping the manifolding. When gases are used, the stack needs to monitor the ionomer moisture. If such membranes are not kept hydrated, they lose their ability to conduct protons. A liquid by virtue of its structure just has more energy density than that same substance as a gas.
Liquid fuel infrastructure already in place: Our energy economy is a liquid one. It is easier to transition to an energy economy that has a liquid as its basis rather than gas.
High energy density: The graph of volumetric vs. gravimetric energy density, shows the reactants used have a high energy density. This is due to both the nature of the reaction and the use of liquids instead of gases.
Minimal use of noble metals to thwart high costs and poisoning: Many fuel catalysts use noble metals to optimize power density. Noble metals work well, but tend to be rare and very expensive. Swift wants to stay away from them for these reasons.
No heavy structural tanks to store pressurized gases: Cells that use gases need to store those gases in pressurized vessels to have decent energy density. This can add quite a bit of weight to a system. Also, this increases the complexity and number of systems necessary, and is a safety issue. Hydrogen under pressure can make it a threat in terms of flammability. It is even possible that in the event of a sudden tear in a high pressure tank, the static discharge could ignite the gas.
No harmful emissions: The Swift FCS has many advantages over petroleum based power generation. The only gases generated in the reaction are pure nitrogen and carbon dioxide.
High efficiency: In terms of efficiency, ICEs again achieve less than 40%; a fuel cell operates over 80%.
More applications: Swift’s FCS is not simply limited to use in aircraft. It is worth noting that it could be used in stand alone power generation, the automotive industry, space craft, individual infantry soldiers battery replacements and laptop battery replacements. The amount of applications depend on ones imagination.
Availability of fuel: Urea, alcohols, and organic acids are pervasive and economically obtained from natural sources
Energy independence: As the Swift direct fuel cells become a part of power generation, the need for foreign oil oil is lessened.
Light weight: The reactants being used have a high energy density making it feasible to use in applications such as flight.
Safety: The direct fuel cells operate at conditions slightly higher than ambient temperature and pressure. Vehicles can additionally arrange their power plants so that the fuel and oxidizer are placed near each other so that in the event of an accident, they will react benignly. The reactants themselves pose little harm to people, especially at their lower concentrations of use.