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Battery and Fuel Cell Technologies

Office of Educational Partnerships, Clarkson University

This series of activities introduces students to the technologies of batteries and fuel cells. Activities include a mix of lectures, demonstrations, and lab activities.

The sequence of activities takes about five to eight class periods. Additional materials necessary such as PEM fuel cells, digital multimeters and PEM electolyzers.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Curricula supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
High School: 3 Performance Expectations, 5 Disciplinary Core Ideas, 1 Cross Cutting Concept, 3 Science and Engineering Practices

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

About Teaching the Guiding Principle
Other materials addressing GPd
About Teaching the Guiding Principle
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Energy Literacy

Other materials addressing:
1.6 Chemical and nuclear reactions.
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1.7 Units of energy.
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1.8 Power.
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1.4 Energy quality degrades over time.
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4.5 Electricity generation.
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4.6 Humans store energy.
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4.7 Different sources of energy have different benefits and drawbacks.
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5.1 Energy decisions are made at many levels.
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5.2 Energy infrastructure has inertia.
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6.5 Social and technological innovation.

Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • There is ample material in this sequence of activities and educators should consider which sections best suit their curriculum needs. It is not necessary to do all of the activities, but substantial review and preparation time is advised prior to commencing the activities.
  • This resource incorporates engineering, design, and technology, which supports NGSS.
  • Although the resource is dated 2009, the concepts and science remain current.

About the Science

  • This resource compares and contrasts a galvanic cell (battery) and an electrolytic cell (fuel cell) and explores how each energy source functions.
  • Electrolysis is investigated to produce hydrogen fuel to power a fuel cell.
  • Passed initial science review - expert science review pending.

About the Pedagogy

  • The pedagogy of these activities encourages students to tackle these topics in depth and engage in higher order thinking. Quantitative reasoning is used throughout. This resource contains five parts and any of the parts may be completed independently:
    1. Lecture, discussion, and demonstration of electric circuits, batteries, and fuel cells.
    2. Students build and test a saltwater battery and two fuel cell prototypes.
    3. Students build and test a hydrogen fuel cell and write a lab report. Students calculate the efficiency of their fuel cell model and then design and test improvements aimed at increasing its power production.
    4. Students perform an electrolysis experiment to observe what occurs as electricity is used to split water into hydrogen and oxygen gases in making hydrogen fuel.
    5. The final activity is a class discussion on the feasibility of using hydrogen as a widespread fuel source for transportation, student proposals on how to scale up hydrogen as a fuel source, and identifying potential roadblocks to changing our energy infrastructure.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

Related URLs These related sites were noted by our reviewers but have not been reviewed by CLEAN

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Curricula supports:

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