Fuel containing hydrogen is channeled to the anode, where a catalyst would split the hydrogen atoms into positive hydrogen ions (protons) and negatively charged electrons.
The function of the electrolyte is to allow only the hydrogen ions (but not the electrons) to pass through it to the cathode. The hydrogen ions travel from the anode to the cathode through the electrolyte.
At the cathode, the hydrogen ions that pass through electrolyte combine with oxygen in the air to form water.
Electrons travel along an external circuit, generating an electrical current.