This fuel cell dates back to the 1940s and was the first to be fully developed in the 1960s. It was used in the Apollo spacecraft programme. It employs an alkaline electrolyte such as potassium hydroxide set between nickel or precious metal electrodes. Its operating temperature is 60-80°C which enables it to have a short warm-up time.
Its main drawback is that the electrolyte reacts with carbon dioxide which significantly reduces its performance. This means it has to use pure hydrogen and oxygen as its fuels. Another problem is that it has an energy density one tenth that of PEMFCs, which makes it much bulkier for a given output. On the plus side it is relatively cheap and has a role in static applications.
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The solar Stirling engine is progressively becoming a viable alternative to solar panels for its higher efficiency. Stirling engines might be the best way to harvest the power provided by the sun. This is an easy-to-understand explanation of how Stirling engines work, the different types, and why they are more efficient than steam engines.