Although the principle of operation of fuel cells has been known for a long time and is most attractive because of the high output that should be obtained, it is very difficult to apply and gives rise to formidable electro-chemical problems. This principle is to recuperate the electrons released by chemical reactions in certain special circumstances, and make them flow in a power circuit. However, these electrons have to be released by electrodes in solid materials placed at contact level between the fuels and the intermediate agent which is usually an electrolytic liquid intended to prevent direct reaction between fuels and provide an ionizable medium. The reaction also has to be catalysed. Different channels have been explored. At present, in France, research is being furthered on one method in which the fuels are air and hydrogen, with a basic electrolyte, and another in which the fuels--air and methanol--are introduced into the cell mixed with the electrolyte. However, neither of these two methods has produced results enabling the cells to be used extensively because they are still much too heavy, too large and too expensive. Research elsewhere is no further advanced than in France, apart from the United States where some extremely expensive fuel cells have been developed for the space programmes. However, the need is often felt for a few kilowatts of electric power and, if it is not possible to draw on the general electricity distribution system, the only way of obtaining them at present is to use a generating set. This is justification enough for exploiting the possibilities of research to the full.

  • Corporate Authors:

    Societe Nationale des Chemins de Fer Francais

    92 rue Bonaparte
    75 Paris 6e,   France 
  • Authors:
    • Autruffe, H
  • Publication Date: 1972-1


  • French

Media Info

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00047782
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: International Union of Railways
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Dec 13 1974 12:00AM