Fuel cells, an alternative to standard sources of energy

A. Boudghene Stambouli*, E. Traversa

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

157 Scopus citations


Three E's are the national energy policy drivers of any country of the world, Energy security, Economic growth and Environmental protection. A fuel cell is an energy conversion device that produces electricity by electrochemically combining fuel (hydrogen) and oxidant (oxygen from the air) gases through electrodes and across an ion conducting electrolyte. The principal characteristic of a fuel cell is its ability to convert chemical energy directly into electrical energy giving much higher conversion efficiencies than any conventional thermo-mechanical system thus extracting more electricity from the same amount of fuel, operate without combustion so they are virtually pollution free and have quieter operation since there are no moving parts. The emission of fuel cells running on hydrogen derived from a renewable source will be nothing but water vapour. Fuel cells are presently under development for a variety of power generation applications in response to the critical need for a cleaner energy technology. This paper reviews the existing or emerging fuel cells technologies, their design and operation, their limitations and their benefits in connection with energy, environment and sustainable development relationship. Few potential applications of fuel cell will be discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)297-306
Number of pages10
JournalRenewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


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