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Build a hydrogen fuel cell.

Build a hydrogen fuel cell.

A fuel cell is a device that converts a fuel such as hydrogen, alcohol, gasoline, or methane into electricity directly. A hydrogen fuel cell produces electricity without any pollution, since pure water is the only byproduct.
Hydrogen fuel cells are used in spacecraft and other high-tech applications where a clean, efficient power source is needed.

You can make a hydrogen fuel cell in your kitchen in about 10 minutes, and demonstrate how hydrogen and oxygen can combine to produce clean electrical power.

To make the fuel cell, we need the following:

One foot of platinum coated nickel wire, or pure platinum wire. Since this is not a common household item, we carry platinum coated nickel wire in our catalog.

A popsickle stick or similar small piece of wood or plastic.

A 9 volt battery clip.

A 9 volt battery.


Some transparent sticky tape.

A glass of water.

A volt meter.

The first step is to cut the platinum coated wire into two six inch long pieces, and wind each piece into a little coiled spring that will be the electrodes in our fuel cell. I wound mine on the end of the test lead of my volt meter, but a nail, an ice pick, or a coat hanger will do nicely as a coil form.

Next, we cut the leads of the battery clip in half and strip the insulation off of the cut ends. Then we twist the bare wires onto the ends of the platinum coated electrodes, as shown in the photo. The battery clip will be attached to the electrodes, and two wires will also be attached to the electrodes, and will later be used to connect to the volt meter.

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