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3 electro-galvanic fuel cells from a rebreather
An electro-galvanic fuel cell is an electrical device used to measure the concentration of oxygen gas in scuba diving and medical equipment.
A chemical reaction occurs in the fuel cell when the potassium hydroxide in the cell comes into contact with oxygen. This creates an electric current between the lead anode and the gold-plated cathode through a load resistance. The voltage produced is proportional to the concentration of oxygen present.
They are used in oxygen analysers in technical diving to display the proportion of oxygen in a nitrox or trimix breathing gas before a dive. They are also used in electronic, closed-circuit rebreathers to monitor the oxygen partial pressure during the dive.
Electro-galvanic fuel cells have a limited lifetime which is reduced by exposure to high concentrations of oxygen. The reaction between oxygen and lead at the anode consumes lead, which eventually results in the cell to fail to sense high concentrations of oxygen. Typically, a cell used for diving applications will function correctly for 3 years if stored in a sealed bag of air but only for four months if stored in pure oxygen.
Categories: Fuel cells | Environment | Sustainability | Sustainable technologies | Climate change | Diving equipment | Sensors | Oxygen