Lab-Aids: Investigating Alternative Energy: Hydrogen & Fuel Cells Kit
This six activity module focuses on hydrogen fuel cell technology as one potential solution to energy concerns. Students first consider some trade-offs of using various fuels, including hydrogen, for powering vehicles then use an electrolyzer to produce hydrogen and oxygen gas from water. Students then uses these gases to generate electricity with a proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell and observe the consumption of gases by the fuel cell and the motion of an electric propeller attached to it.
They also measure the voltage and the current produced by the fuel cell and are introduced to oxidation-reduction (redox) reactions and half-reactions as a means of creating electric current. To further their understanding of the chemistry involved, they use both a computer simulation and a manipulative model of a PEM fuel cell. To end the unit, students use the G of the reaction to compute the efficiency of the fuel cell in converting the energy in H2 to electricity then identify the advantages of and the challenges facing fuel cell powered vehicles. Although this can be used as a demonstration kit, we recommend purchasing enough equipment sets so that all your students, working in small groups, can experience the lessons first-hand.