Recent reports on national TV revealed the latest range of electric car and vans. Quiet, efficient and with a government grant; reasonably priced. But children need to learn about renewable energy alternatives and one of the best contenders is the hydrogen fuel cell now available in schools as a science teaching resource to support the national curriculum.
The teacher can now show how solar energy can power the electrolysis process to release hydrogen and oxygen using a front of class demonstration panel. Students will learn the range of physics, chemistry and biology sciences that combine to make Hydrogen an ideal renewable energy storage media. The range of renewable energy teaching resources from www.keen2learn.co.uk includes the equipment to complete 30 detailed experiments in energy conversion using hydrogen fuel cells and solar photo voltaic cells. The classroom demonstration panel is supplemented by class- group experiments, which can include the fun model hydrogen fuel cell car with its two-way fuel cell. The highly practical range of experiments are designed to extend awareness of the role of hydrogen to capture renewable energy when it is least required by the national grid; like a huge battery.
The key to hydrogen is its use as an energy storage medium. Converting excess solar, marine, hydro and wind energy to hydrogen through electrolysis allows this stored energy to be used when the sun is not shining or the wind blowing. Passing the stored hydrogen through a fuel cell instantly combines the hydrogen with oxygen to produce electricity, a bit of water and a little heat. Efficiency levels currently run at around 50 to 60 per cent but future developments will clearly improve this. Children will learn that this is a massive improvement on the 25 per cent efficiency generally achieved with heat source energy systems and internal combustion engines.
Hydrogen fuel cell systems are already used for emergency electrical supply in critical installations at airports and power stations where an uninterrupted power source can be run for as long as the hydrogen fuel lasts.