1st Edition. SEVEN IMPORTANT FIRST EDITIONS IN THE INVENTION & DEVELOPMENT OF THE FUEL CELL.
Simply put, fuel cell technology generates electricity within the chemical reaction created via the combination of hydrogen and oxygen. The technology -- currently offering the high probability of zero emission cars with longer ranges than current electric cars -- has a long history that it is the goal of this collection to illustrate.
More specifically: “A fuel cell produces electricity from a “fuel” and an oxidant that react in the presence of an electrolyte. Fuel cells differ from other batteries in that they consume reactant from an external source and are thus a thermodynamically open system. The benefit of a fuel cell is that it will operate as long as fuel is provided” (Collector’s Folio).
The first hydrogen-oxygen cell, referred to as the first fuel cell, was demonstrated by the scientist and barrister William Grove in 1839. “While investigating the electrolysis of water, Grove observed that when the current was switched off, a small current flowed through the circuit in the opposite direction, as a result of a reaction between the electrolysis products, hydrogen and oxygen, catalyzed by the platinum electrodes. Grove recognized the possibility of combining several of these in series to form a gaseous voltaic battery, also [making] the crucially important observation that there must be a ‘notable surface of action’ between the gas, the electrolyte, and the electrode phases in a cell” (Stolten, Hydrogen and Fuel Cells, 63).
“In subsequent experiments [published in both The Philosophical Magazine and The Philosophical transactions] Grove obtained a powerful current using hydrogen and chlorine, and appreciable currents with other pairs of gases. Grove realized that the electrical energy resulted from the chemical energy liberated when hydrogen and oxygen combined and that this electrical energy could be used to decompose water (he did in fact carry out the electrolysis of water with current from his gas battery).
“This realization stimulated thoughts which had been engaging him for some time: “This battery establishes that gases in combining and acquiring a liquid form evolve sufficient force to decompose a similar liquid and cause it to acquire a gaseous form. This is to my mind the most interesting effect of the battery; it exhibits such a beautiful instance of the correlation of natural forces” (DSB, V, pp. 559-560).
Grove’s concept lay dormant and an important step forward in the development of the H2-O2 fuel cell did not occur for over 40 years. Then, in 1889 [and in a paper included in this collection] Ludwig Mond and Charles Langer used air and coal gas to build the first useable device and in so doing, coined first used the term ‘fuel cell’.
Grove’s idea again lay dormant. 80 years later, the English engineer Francis Thomas Bacon created the first practical fuel cell – one that was efficient, and one powered by the readily available fuels, hydrogen and oxygen. Item #535
CONDITION & DETAILS: All of the documents are in fine condition and are housed in individually sized compartments in a beautiful leather clamshell box. The 1842 Philosophical Magazine and 1843 Philosophical Transactions paper are in individual issues in original wraps; the remainder of the documents are extractions bound in leather and cloth bindings in materials sympathetic to those used in the clamshell box.