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Breakthrough in fuel cell technology

Discussion in 'Home Power and Microgeneration' started by Michael Baugh, Jul 5, 2003.

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  1. Steve Spence

    Steve Spence Guest

    Great, all we need now is a breakthrough in hydrogen technology......

    The biggest drawback to a hydrogen economy is not the cost of the fuel cell,
    but the cost of the hydrogen.
  2. You didn't read that the area being studied was the
    "water-gas shift" of getting hydrogen from water?
  3. Jim

    Jim Guest

    Hi Steve;

    I remember that NOVA did a show on The Hydrogen Economy over 10 or 20
    years ago, and one of the things that I remember in that show was that
    the Japanese had developed a method of using solar energy to split
    water into it's component parts directly by superheating steam and
    hitting it with the concentrated solar energy. Do you remember that
    program, and I wonder what has become of that technology? In the show
    they showed a public transit bus being run on the hydrogen supposedly
    produced by this process. I recorded that show but can't seem to
    locate it in all this junk. The process involved a large mirror
    concentrating sunlight into a tiny beam.

  4. Steve Spence

    Steve Spence Guest

    in 96 only 10% of the steam was converted, with the hope of reaching 25%.
    sounds like a real inefficient process.

    concentrating sunlight to make electricity through boiling water and using a
    mechanical turbine is a far more promising method of producing electricity,
    and charge battery powered ev's.

    SHEC's has successfully driven hydrogen from super heated steam at
    temperatures of around 400 - 750 Celsius in the lab.
  5. Bob Adkins

    Bob Adkins Guest

    Hydrogen is dirt cheap. The big problem with H2 is storage. Too much in 1
    vessel, and ka-boom! It must either be used when produced, stored in the
    liquid phase, or stored as hydride of some sort. All methods have serious
    drawbacks for consumer applications.

  6. Nick Pine

    Nick Pine Guest

    Bullshit. How much per kWh?

  7. In really large quantities it is the price of about twice it's volume in
    natural gas, ( I seem to recall something like a 1.6 to one conversion rate)
    plus a modest amortized cost for the cracking tower. Dirt cheap is probably
    as good a description as any. On a cost per mile basis, I think the raw
    price of the fuel is not as much a driver as the difficult storage. A lot
    easier to do natural gas, but even that is pretty rare for small scale
    transportation applications.
  8. Bob Adkins

    Bob Adkins Guest

    Increased demand would make the price go down as cheap as natural gas. As
    you say, storage is the real issue.

    Wonder how much hydrogen a couple of big PV panels could produce
    electrolytically on a sunny day? I bet the answer would surprise me, because
    I don't have any idea.

    Then there's the oxygen produced as a by-product. That could surely be used
    for something. <GASP! WHEEZE!>

  9. D.A.Kopf

    D.A.Kopf Guest

    The "hydrogen economy" is becoming an issue for the next US election.
    I expect the usual platform ambiguities: since hydrogen can be
    extracted using any energy source there is likely to be broad support
    from nuclear, coal, oil, gas, and renewables industries. Using any but
    the latter is IMO counterproductive, although centralized reformers
    could potentially sequester some greenhouse gases.

    What would be nice would be a reversible fuel cell for home use. It
    could have roughly the same storage efficiency as a battery, with the
    advantage of never throwing away available power by becoming fully
    charged. Excess hydrogen could be stored and used for cooking,
    heating, transportation, etc. or hydrogen could be purchased to make
    up shortfalls. Physical size is not so much an issue for home use, but
    a large precious metal content would make the cost prohibitive. Other
    chemistries are possible, e.g. there is a US patent for zinc pellet
    cells using a separate pellet reconstituter. I would hope any proposed
    US Hydrogen Institute would support research into all these types of
    fuel cells.
  10. Bob Adkins

    Bob Adkins Guest

    There's a brand new technology in the works that needs only a fraction of
    the expensive catalytic metals (Au, Pt).

    Everything hinges on oil and gas prices. When they converge with H2 prices
    in 5-10 years, there will be a real H2 boom. Arrgh. Gotta watch that.

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