Clean energy, renewable energy, fuel cells, hydrogen. These technologies are going to bring us into the future. If you’re like most of the world’s population and do not really understand what hydrogen fuel cells are, you may be wondering how they work and what they do for society. If you’ve seen our PROTECT+ion Omniflow product and wondered how it works, we will explain how it fits into a fuel cell application.

According to the US Department of Energy, “A fuel cell uses the chemical energy of hydrogen or another fuel to cleanly and efficiently produce electricity.” There are many types of fuel cells, such as polymer electric membrane (PEM) fuel cells, direct methanol fuel cells, alkaline fuel cells, phosphoric acid fuel cells, molten carbonate fuel cells, solid oxide fuel cells, and reversible fuel cells. Fuel cells are used in many different applications such as material handling, trains, trucking, busses, fuel cell electric vehicles, mobile power, backup power, drones, marine freight, and even planes. Many of these applications are still in the beginning stages, but it is exciting to think about how they can shape our society’s future within the next half century.

Fuel cells are the future of clean energy and are being adapted into electric vehicles, material handling, power generators, shipping, and many more applications. The only byproduct of hydrogen from fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV) is water vapor, meaning it is a zero-emission vehicle. Currently, the only state that can cell hydrogen cars is California, who has a goal of 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles by 2025. This is because it is the only state with enough refueling stations to report sales.

Fuel cells contain two electrodes, a negative anode, and a positive cathode, between an electrolyte. A fuel is supplied to the anode, and air is supplied to the cathode. A catalyst splits the hydrogen cells into protons and electrons, which take a separate path to the cathode. These electrons create a flow of electricity. The protons work with the oxygen and the electrons to produce water and heat.

The water byproduct has excess ionic charges that require a process called ion exchange, which is a reversible chemical reaction in which the ion from a wastewater solution is exchanged for a similarly charged ion attached to an immobile solid particle (ex. resin). Our PROTECT+ion Omniflow protects the equipment from excess ionic charges. Our filter comes in four sizes to meet a wide range of applications. It has a unique ability to be mounted in any direction, without sacrificing performance, fitting perfectly into any design.

Without products such as PROTECT+ion Omniflow to protect the system, there is risk of the excess charges damaging the structure of the fuel cell, and negatively impacting the performance of the fuel cell. PROTECT+ion Omniflow works behind the scenes to keep fuel cell applications working, so you don’t have to worry about damages to the system.

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As this technology expands, we will begin to see more hydrogen fueling stations beyond California. These fueling stations are a similar experience to gas stations. Each station includes an above ground hydrogen storage tank, at least one compressor to reduce volume and increase pressure, a chiller, to keep it from exceeding the temperature threshold, and a dispenser. These stations are self-service and accept credit cards. There are internalized safety measures within the dispenser before the fueling starts, and there is a communication system that senses when the fuel storage is full, just like it would at an average gas station.

There are currently 43 refueling stations in California with more planned, 1 in Hawaii, and 12 planned in the northeast.  In early March 2021, the Washington State senate passed SB5000, which if passed in the house and signed by the governor, Jay Inslee, would establish an eight-year pilot to reduce sales tax on fuel cell electric vehicles. The bill passed in the senate 49-0, with bipartisan support. This would bring the infrastructure of refueling stations to the state of Washington. As this technology expands, it would be exciting to see someone drive a fuel cell electric vehicle from Seattle all the way to San Diego.

Throughout this entire process, products such as PROTECT+ion Omniflow will be installed in the innerworkings of these cars, ensuring they are running properly. i2M, through PROTECT+ion Omniflow is supporting the future of clean energy, by supporting the success of the entire fuel cell system with fuel cell electric vehicles, material handling, and many other applications. Products such as PROTECT+ion Omniflow are crucial to the success of fuel cell. When an OEM installs our ion exchange filter, they don’t have to worry about the excess charges that damage the system and keep your vehicle or forklift from working properly, meaning the end user can rest assured that their system is safe. To learn more about how PROTECT+ion Omniflow can support your application, give us a call or send us an email.