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Author Topic: Fuel Cells
Elkhound
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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BBC Article.

Your comments, please.

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"The bicycle is the most civilized conveyance known to man. Other forms of transport grow daily more nightmarish. Only the bicycle remains pure in heart."--Iris Murdoch

Posts: 3307 | From: Charleston, WV | Registered: Oct 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
AnglsWeHvHrdOnHiRdr
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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I don't know; what do *you* think about it?

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"When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always declares that it is his duty."--George Bernard Shaw

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Elkhound
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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quote:
Originally posted by AnglRdr:
I don't know; what do *you* think about it?

I don't have the technical knowledge to make an intelligent comment one way or the other. There are Snopesters who do (or, at least there seem to be Snopesters who are experts in every field one can imagine and a few one probably can't.) Hence, I will leave the comments to those who know enough to make valid ones.

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"The bicycle is the most civilized conveyance known to man. Other forms of transport grow daily more nightmarish. Only the bicycle remains pure in heart."--Iris Murdoch

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Shadowduck
We Wish You a Merry Giftmas


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I don't see anything particularly controversial about the article. Fuel cells have been around for a while now and there's no denying the article's claim that government backing would be extremely helpful in encouraging their more widespread use. Am I missing something? Did you post this for general discussion Elkhound, or was there something specific?

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But of course, I could be wrong.

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Jason Threadslayer
Let There Be PCs on Earth


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Toshiba's Fuel Cell

Fuel cell powered cameras? PDAs? Walkmans? Phones?

Hmm... I wonder how long they last...

ETA: Has anyone found even a hobbyist's fuel cell for sale?

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All posts foretold by Nostradamus.

Turing test failures: 6

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Elkhound
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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General discussion. My understaning is that although fuel cells have been around, there have been numerous technical problems in making them actually practical for quotidian use. Is this true? If it is, the article seems to indicate that these problems have been or are well on their way to having been solved, but I just don't know enough to be able to tell if this is so or not.

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"The bicycle is the most civilized conveyance known to man. Other forms of transport grow daily more nightmarish. Only the bicycle remains pure in heart."--Iris Murdoch

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Dive_Cecil
I Saw Three Shipments


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Well there is the little issue of where the hell the Hydrogen is going to come from? Even if the fuel cell technology was mature and cheap we lack a Hydrogen infrastucture. Even if that existed we still have to make the Hydrogen, two choices, make it from hydrocarbons and toss the CO2 into the air or strip it from water (which takes as much energy as we get back from the fuel cell).

The way I think about it Hydrogen is a energy storage device, not an energy source. Most of our energy problems come from lack of sources not storage (although better storage would help).

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oh pleeze
It's So Cheesy (to Fall in Love)


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from what little exposure (technically speaking) i've had with them, they seem to be a great alternative power source. although, in their infancy (meaning they're quite large now), i do see them getting smaller and more efficient. this site has some great info on them:
plug power


how they work

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op

i'm taking the afternoon off to stalk my previous boss who fired me for taking afternoons off.

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Ganzfeld
Let There Be PCs on Earth


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quote:
Originally posted by Dive_Cecil:
Well there is the little issue of where the hell the Hydrogen is going to come from? The way I think about it Hydrogen is a energy storage device, not an energy source. Most of our energy problems come from lack of sources not storage (although better storage would help).

That's right. We also have to remember that most fuel cells these days do not run on hydrogen. Many of them run on regular fossil fuels such as natural gas, and they give off greenhouse gases. The best things about fuel cells are that they are very clean and they offer ways to distribute the energy burden to smaller, cleaner, easily maintained plants. One of the problems of our energy system is that the energy is produced at large, expensive plants. This is much better, of course, than having a gasoline generator at every house but fuel cells provide a way to allow everyone to have a generator cleanly. This is a prime step for decentralizing the energy grid and allowing new energy sources to take over.
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abigsmurf
We Wish You a Merry Giftmas


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Fuel cells work out much much cheaper than conventional batteries.

going to make lots of assumption with this calculation but here goes.

assuming the transfer of electricity > hydrogen > electricity works out at around 50% efficiency, it takes 2kwh's to produce 1kwh or electricity. In the UK a unit is around 10p so you're looking at 20p for 1kwh. thats enough to run a full size desktop computer plus a monitor for over an hour maybe over two depending on your configuration. I'd like to see a regular battery achieve both that power and value.

I could see people generating their own hydrogen through personal solar panels (the technology is becomming cheaper) and/or mini wind turbines, even burning household waste (which is largely carbon neutral)

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Jason Threadslayer
Let There Be PCs on Earth


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quote:
Originally posted by Dive_Cecil:
Well there is the little issue of where the hell the Hydrogen is going to come from? Even if the fuel cell technology was mature and cheap we lack a Hydrogen infrastucture.

We have the facilities to manufacture it -- hydrogen is used in the refining of oil and many other processes.

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All posts foretold by Nostradamus.

Turing test failures: 6

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Jason Threadslayer
Let There Be PCs on Earth


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quote:
Originally posted by Ganzfeld:
The best things about fuel cells are that they are very clean and they offer ways to distribute the energy burden to smaller, cleaner, easily maintained plants.

I disagree that they will be maintained -- car engines are often not well maintained.

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All posts foretold by Nostradamus.

Turing test failures: 6

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Ganzfeld
Let There Be PCs on Earth


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quote:
Originally posted by Jason Threadslayer:
quote:
Originally posted by Ganzfeld:
The best things about fuel cells are that they are very clean and they offer ways to distribute the energy burden to smaller, cleaner, easily maintained plants.

I disagree that they will be maintained -- car engines are often not well maintained.
I was only speaking about their ease of maintenance, not the likelihood that they will be maintained.

Also, cars (or gasoline generators) that are not well-maintanied give off harmful emissions. Fuel cells probably only lose efficiency. (Maybe they would leak, which wouldn't be good.)

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Delta-V
Xboxing Day


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Didn't we just have this discussion?

Whether you use
Coal->mechanical energy->electricity->hydrogen->electricity->mechanical energy,
or
Natural gas->hydrogen->electricity->mechanical energy,
you're just moving your fossil fuel usage around, not actually solving the problem.

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"My neighbor asked why anyone would need a car that can go 190 mph. If the answer isn't obvious, and explaination won't help." - Csabe Csere

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Ganzfeld
Let There Be PCs on Earth


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quote:
Originally posted by Delta-V:
Didn't we just have this discussion?

Whether you use
Coal->mechanical energy->electricity->hydrogen->electricity->mechanical energy,
or
Natural gas->hydrogen->electricity->mechanical energy,
you're just moving your fossil fuel usage around, not actually solving the problem.

True. But while we are relying on fossil fuels we ought to move around our usage in order to 1) decntralize when it means better efficiency (lots of electricity is lost in long lines through heat) 2) centralize when it improves efficiency and cleanliness (as in moving to electric cars, which are cleaner but don't save fossils when the electric grid relies on fossils) 3) prepare for alternative energy sources. This last one is very important. The way energy is distrubuted has to change in order for alternatives to have a place to fit in as they are developed. I don't think something like a unilateral move to fuel cell vehicles would be efficient or economically feasible but a move to fuel cell power for large buildings (already done in some places) and fuel cells for household use (a kerosene powered fuel cell is now being tested) are good moves when combined with other alternatives because they open up more possibilities and the precedent for a wide variety of alternative fuel uses.
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Finite Fourier Alchemy
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


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quote:
Originally posted by Dive_Cecil:
The way I think about it Hydrogen is a energy storage device, not an energy source. Most of our energy problems come from lack of sources not storage (although better storage would help).

To be pedantic, most of our energy problems come from difficulties in moving it to where it needs to be.

We have that bigass fusion generator just 93 million miles down the road. I'm pretty sure that will suffice as soon as we figure out a way to collect it in a more useful manner.

quote:
Originally posted by Delta-V:
Didn't we just have this discussion?

Whether you use
Coal->mechanical energy->electricity->hydrogen->electricity->mechanical energy,
or
Natural gas->hydrogen->electricity->mechanical energy,
you're just moving your fossil fuel usage around, not actually solving the problem.

Internal combustion engines have a fuel-to-mechanical-work efficiency that is thermodynamically limited by its operating temperature; fuel cells have no such limitation.

Also, natural gas is an environmental improvement over gasoline. Less soot, less carbon monoxide, and fewer contaminants in the fuel itself.

Hydrogen production and hydrogen storage are both major aspects of fuel cell technology which (for all we know) are still in their infancy. It is reasonable that, for now, we will use fossil fuels to produce hydrogen, because that is the cheapest way to do it.

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Thinking about New England / missing old Japan

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