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William Grove, British inventor of the fuel cell

William Grove, British inventor of the fuel cell

H407/0166

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Credit

SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

William Grove. Portrait of Sir William Robert Grove (1811-96), British physicist, electrochemist and inventor. Grove trained as a lawyer but he semi-retired into science because of ill health. In 1839 Grove improved the electrochemical battery; his design used zinc and platinum. In 1842 he devised the first fuel cell or 'gas battery'. It consisted of two platinum strips half-immersed in sulphuric acid, one projecting into hydrogen, the other into oxygen. A current flowed when the strips were connected by wire. In 1845 he invented the first electric filament lamp. In 1846 he showed that water is dissociated into hydrogen and oxygen when passed over hot platinum.

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