This advanced design enables the fuel cell to create electricity to power the drive motor with exceptional efficiency.
The Clarity’s fuel cell uses hydrogen to create electricity that powers the drive motor; in basic terms, here’s how it works:
As the pressurized hydrogen flows into the fuel cell’s anode side, it interacts with a platinum catalyst that separates the positively charged protons from the negatively charged electrons; the protons pass through the proton-exchange membrane.
On the cathode side, air is being pumped in; the oxygen in the air contacts a catalyst that makes it attractive to electrons.
The electrons from the hydrogen want to join with the oxygen, but they don’t go through the membrane; they’re forced through a conductor, which creates the electrical-current circuit.
The other end of the conductor is connected to the cathode side of the fuel cell to complete the circuit; but before the electrons finish their journey, they’re put to work turning the electric motor that drives the front wheels.
Finally, the electrons rejoin the protons in the cathode, and they combine with the oxygen to create pure water, which drains out of the fuel cell; besides this water, the only other by-product is chemically generated heat—there is no combustion.
Each cell puts out about one volt; in a vehicle fuel cell, hundreds of cells are combined to create a stack with sufficient voltage to drive the motor.
A Voltage Control Unit steps up the voltage from the fuel-cell stack to enhance torque production and responsiveness even further.