Aset of 3 fuel cells were used to power this space craft, as previously statedtheses sells used a reaction between oxygen and hydrogen to produce anelectrical output. Re waste product, water, was used as drinking water on theApollo spacecraft. On each cell there was separate compartments of oxygen andhydrogen, with electrodes in them, in total 31 cells were connected up andproduced a output of 563- 1420 watts. The aside image is a prior model used, which was the Gemini fuel source,this system utilised a liquid oxygen and hydrogen source that was reactedacross a proton exchange membrane, this was a permeable polymer sheet that wascoated with a platinum catalyst (to speed up the reaction rate), this systemwas the power generation.Voyager:This probe utilised a set of 3 radioisotope thermoelectric generatorsthat utilised a thermocouple to produce an electrical output. A thermocouple isessentially a device that is made of 2 electrical doctors, these convertthermal heat energy from radioisotope decay into electrical energy. This systemutilises a Seebeck effect system, where one end of the thermocouple is placedoutside the probe in deep space, where temperatures are extremely cold/freezing, while a second thermocouple is placed in a high temperatureenvironment inside the probe.
The difference in temperatures generates anelectrical current that is used as energy. Each generator was filled with 24spheres of isotope, for this craft the isotope chosen was Plutonium-238 oxide,this craft was able to produce 470 watts of electrical energy, however itshould be noted that that value is based on the initial output. The isotopechosen has a hive life of 87.7 years thus over time the power output hasdeclined, this is coupled by the structural deterioration of the thermocouplesystem.
Viability of portable battery/cell technology:Over the years the fuel cell application has boomed, however from myanalysis of this rise in electrical usage, the use of secondary/ rechargeablecells is the dominant factor, for this analysis I shall be looking into theapplications of fuel cells in automobiles and mobile devices.Mobile devices:As mobile phone technology is growing in its intricacy, its demand forpower, reduced recharging time, size and weight of the battery as well as itsstorage capabilities are on the rise. New and more advanced mobile devices haveincorporated a fast charging feature, this feature is obtained through a changein the battery itself, previously and currently in many mobile phones thebattery is using a lithium ion base while the more advanced and modern cellulardevices are using a solid-state battery; a solid-state battery works by passingan electrical current though a solid , where as in previous generations, acurrent was passed through a polymer or liquid , such as in lithium ionbatteries. It is assumed that these new batteries can be recharged to fullpower in half their normal time if not fasterFuel cells and automobiles:In recent years hybrid cars and electric cars have been on the rise.
Governments have sectioned laws stating that by the year 2040, all petrol ortraditional fuel powered cars are to be decommissioned and no longer used onthe roads, this paves the way for the future of electric cars, as they will bethe only legal road car available. New electric cars like the Hyundaimanufactured car named NEXO, are made to be powered by a hydrogen fuel cell,this cell is made to have a higher fuel efficiency rating than any other fuelcell currently available. Other examples of advancing portable fuel cells onthe automobile department are the Hydrogen fuelled busses that are found inparts of London, such as the No.8 bus, these new electric engines use hydrogenfuel cells to produce a electrical current strong enough to power and move abus loaded to capacity with people, its waste product is clean water and watervapour that is let out via the exhaust. These new hydrogen fuel cells are madeto have an increased range of travel compared to previous iterations.
To conclude by looking at the technological advancements made over theyears from the fuel cells used in Apollo and Voyager as well the modernapplications of fuel cells in phone batteries and car’s, fuel cell technologyis every evolving. The use in phone batteries has led to the development offaster recharging secondary fuel cells that are smaller, thinner and lighterthan previous, this is proven by looking at the early rechargeable cells usedin the old Nokia 365 phones that where bulky and weighty compared to the modernbattery cells found in phones like the IPhone X and Samsung Galaxy S8 edge,where the cells are now less than 1mm thick, they are lighter than ever, andhave large energy storage capabilities that can be recharged faster than ever.Cell efficiency has increased, in larger terms, cars and busses have beendeveloped to be powered using hydrogen fuel cells that have ranges of 370miles.