Francis Thomas Bacon (Inventor)
Ramsden Hall Academy (erected 2019)
Francis Thomas Bacon, born 1904 at Ramsden Hall, was a British engineer. He developed the first practical hydrogen-oxygen fuel cells, which convert air and fuel directly into electricity through electrochemical processes.
Bacon graduated from Eton College and Trinity College, Cambridge and became intrigued with fuel cells while working for electrical company C.A. Parsons & Co Ltd. Although Sir William Grove discovered the principle of fuel cells in 1842, it laid dormant until Bacon proposed their use in submarines 100 years later.
In the 1960s, Bacon’s fuel cell was used as part of the United States’ Apollo space missions. The missions used the alkaline fuel cells to provide in-flight power, heat, and clean drinking water, a by-product of the electrochemical reaction.
By the end of the century, fuel cell technology was being developed internationally. He was given an OBE in 1967, elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1973, and awarded the first Grove Medal in 1991.