Engine/Chassis Features

Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell

What’s the Benefit?

This advanced design enables the fuel cell to create electricity to power the drive motor with exceptional efficiency.

The Feature:

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.