Fuel Cell versus Hydrogen Generator
A hydrogen fuel cell should not be confused with a hydrogen generator
as these are two completely separate technologies. A hydrogen fuel
cell, usually called a proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell,
uses compressed hydrogen gas from 3,600 psi to 10,000 psi to generate
electricity to turn one or more electric motors on a fuel cell vehicle
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Hydrogen fuel cell (top)
and hydrogen generators (bottom)
A hydrogen generator, on the other hand, electrolyzes a small amount
of water onboard and injects the resulting HHO gas into an internal
combustion engine's intake system in order to supplement the gasoline,
diesel or other fuel. So, in other words, a hydrogen generator for
cars is supplementary fuel technology and a fuel cell uses hydrogen
as the main power source for the automobile.
A hydrogen fuel cell vehicle works by storing compressed hydrogen
gas onboard. This hydrogen gas is then directed to the fuel cell.
Hydrogen is channeled to the anode side of the PEM fuel cell while
outside air (including oxygen) is channeled to the cathode side.
A catalyst, usually made of platinum will split the hydrogen into
positively and negatively charged ions. The ions traveling different
paths along the membrane of the cell create an electrical current.
When the hydrogen ions meet at the cathode side and join with the
oxygen, water is formed as a byproduct. Heat is also the other byproduct
of a PEM fuel cell.
A hydrogen generator, on the other hand, does not start with compressed
hydrogen gas and does not generate electrical current. A hydrogen
generator uses electrical current from the vehicle's battery or
alternator to split water. The resulting oxyhydrogen gas is used
to by the internal combustion engine to help the gasoline or diesel
fuel burn more cleanly and completely.