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4090RE: [hreg] Thoughts on efficiency

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  • Karl Rábago
    May 1, 2006
    • 0 Attachment
      We have tested commercial fuel cells that have operated for thousands of hours, at a cost of about $3,000/kW.
       
      Not a space fuel cell - a terrestrial application.
       
      The reasons why new technologies have a tough time in the market are as much to do with the existing "market" as with the emerging technology.
       
      karl
       
       
      --------------------------------------------------------
       
       


      From: hreg@yahoogroups.com [mailto:hreg@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Roxanne Boyer
      Sent: Monday, May 01, 2006 8:50 PM
      To: hreg@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: RE: [hreg] Thoughts on efficiency

      Why are fuel cells not making it to the market?
       
      1) The raw materials required are too expensive: platinum, fluoropolymers, special alloy metals....
      2) The materials degrade and the fuel cell only lasts about 1 year.  The reactive chemicals and the high voltage involved want to corrode just about anything. 
      And any work to improve #1, comes at the cost of #2; the cheaper the materials, the faster they degrade.
       
      There are a lot of fuel cell demonstrations out there, however, they all contain very expensive materials (no scale of production will lower the cost enough), and they only last about a year before they degrade.  This has been the case since the 1950's, when just about every major company in the US was developing a fuel cell.  Unfortunately, the fundamental problems have not been solved, or even addressed, and I see very little research in the right areas.  (And prefering a higher, steady income at a lower stress job, I don't work in the area anymore either.  Although, it was more exciting.)
       
      To make fuel cells a reality in automobiles, the following is needed:
      1)  A closed fuel system.  I.E. integrated fuel storage and electrode (hey, did someone invent the battery).  Hydrogen and hydrocarbons are not the only fuels for the electrode; an indirect system might be better.
       
      2)  A different cathode oxidation mechanism.  Gaseous oxygen reacts very poorly (compared to the way we want it to) on metal - why are we still trying to hammer away at it after nearly 100 years of effort.  Biological systems are full of examples of efficient redox reactions and oxidizing carriers.  We need a paradym shift.
       
      An example of such a paradym shift was by Mr. Otto.  He was working on engines, and at the time everyone was working on the "single" stroke engine - explosions occured on both sides of the piston - every stroke was a power stroke, because, surely, that was the way to get the most compact, economical engine, right?  Now, of course we know the "four" stroke engine dominates our lives. Hard to believe, but at the time, "one power stroke per four strokes" was a rediculous design.
       
      Fuel cells are in the niche market today.  A few companies have done well selling fuel cells to specialty markets, such as the space program.  The 5 kW fuel cell in the space shuttle now fetches $10 million a piece, and then, there is a $5 million refubishing cost after every mission.  They are only good for a few missions, and then have to be replaced.  Quite profitable.
       
       

      Karl Rábago <krabago@...> wrote:
      Not exactly.
       
      Fuel cells are uneconomic in some applications. They are economic in others.
       
      The "system" is uneconomic in some applications. And economic in others.
       
      karl
       
       
      --------------------------------------------------------
       
       


      From: hreg@yahoogroups.com [mailto:hreg@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Tommy Yonker
      Sent: Monday, May 01, 2006 10:18 AM
      To: hreg@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: RE: [hreg] Thoughts on efficiency

      So with current technology fuel cells are a long way from being economic when compared to our current system, when  no cost consideration is given  for pollution?
       
      -----Original Message-----
      From: hreg@yahoogroups.com [mailto:hreg@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Karl Rábago
      Sent: Monday, May 01, 2006 5:28 AM
      To: hreg@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [hreg] Thoughts on efficiency
       
      Friends,
       
      We need to get real clear on this whole "produce more energy than they consume" thing.
       
      1. The laws of physics are such that nothing is 100% efficient - and certainly not more than 100% efficient.
       
      2. There are then only 2 issues with which we should concern ourselves. First, how efficiently does the technology convert the input energy into usable product energy. Physics limits the conversion efficiency of engines and boilers - current power plants - to less than 35%. With system losses (transmission, etc.), the current electrical system is about 10% efficient at putting input energy (in the form of coal or natural gas, say) to work in our homes. Fuel cells are more efficient at converting the energy available in hydrogen - hitting about 40 - 50%, and since they would be deployed near the load, system efficiency could be significantly better than for grid power. (for FC info, see http://americanhistory.si.edu/fuelcells/basics.htm).
       
      The second question has to do with "life cycle" or "embodied energy" - Does the total energy into the technology or each generating unit get "paid back" by the energy produced by the unit itself? This is an interesting and, from a sustainability perspective, important, question. If it takes a billion kilowatt hours to make a fuel cell and the system never puts out more than 10 kWh, it seems we could have a problem. Unfortunately, things aren't this simple. Technologies change, and especially for manufactured energy systems (as opposed to large power plants which are "constructed" energy systems), the payback is a function of manufacturing volume. The first of a machine can never pay itself back - economically or energetically - but the 10,000th unit, manufactured on a streamlined assembly line, could.
       
      For this reason, we use economics as a means for comparing the technology. How does the fuel cell compare to the gasoline powered standby generator? In terms of cost per delivered kWh, very poorly. How does it compare to a room full of batteries to back up the power system for a cell phone tower or data bank? Actually - pretty well.
       
      This is to say nothing of the things our economic system values poorly - pollution, future technology improvement potential, significance for global development, etc.
       
      karl
       
       
      --------------------------------------------------------
       
       
       

      From: hreg@yahoogroups.com [mailto:hreg@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Tommy Yonker
      Sent: Monday, May 01, 2006 12:07 AM
      To: hreg@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: RE: [hreg] Are oil company making windfall profits?
      Sorry to seem so obtuse, I didn’t get the answer, at the present time do fuel cells produce more energy than they consume or are they still at this time a promising technology that has not been proven?
       
      -----Original Message-----
      From: hreg@yahoogroups.com [mailto:hreg@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Bashir Syed
      Sent: Saturday, April 29, 2006 5:08 PM
      To: hreg@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: Re: [hreg] Are oil company making windfall profits?
       
      There is a Canadian company which has done a lot of Development work on Fuel Cells for Automobile Technology, but the membranes used for Fuel Cells are quite expensive. Kit are OK, but Fuel Cells can be used by large utility companies (I believe the Edison Power Company in New York utilizes Fuel Cells to supplement energy just like many Sky Scrapers in New York City are installing PhotoVoltaic or Solar Arrays not only on roof tops but also infront of their facades and the energy produced by  this PV source is tied to the existing utility lines (or grid) which in some cases has reduced the total utility bill by 70%. Thus the Solar PV Technology is a way to go, which lasts for about 25 years, and all the intial cost of Solar Arrays and associated hardware can be recovered within 5 to 7 years, after which the energy produced by such a system costs nothing (for grid tied systems) because any unused energy is sold back to utility company.
      The unfortunate part is avaialability of Silicon Solar Panels (1) due to shortage of Silicon to meet the growing demand, and (2) more than 75% of PV companies which manufacture solar Panels etc. are now owned by three giants, SHELL, BP and GE in the whole world. To obtain the panels there is already big line without any guarantee of getting any where. The Oil giants and GE foresaw this coming, and lined themselves up ahead of everybody creating a virtual monopoly. But there is still light at the end of the tunnel, and new emerging PV technologies promise to provide relief (like the emerging Conducting Polymers and CuInSe, and possibly the Quantum-Dots as well).
      In China most rural street lights operate with PV and being innovative they have installed a small wind turbine atop each lamp-post to enhance generation of electrical energy with Wind power too (which increases reliability).  I Europe, tourist boats not only are equiped with Solar roofs for shade, but they also produce enough energy to propel the boats utilizing Solar PV Panels.
      In Khatmandu, Nepal about three years ago, a joint venture company introduced electric (battery operated like Golf carts) mini-buses (3 - wheeler capable of carrying 14 persons). Theses vehicles keep two sets of batteries, one set always being charged at a charging stations which derives all energy from Solar PV Panels. During mid-day the batteries are swaped and it has cut down noise as well pollution, and their business is still growing, and in addition this transport system has created many new jobs (Ref. "THe Electric Vehicle Industry in Nepal," by Anil Baral, Home Power Magazine, Issue # 79, pp. 74-78, October/November 2000).
      Sky is the limit for utilizing Renewable Energy along with new lighting technology provided by high power LEDs (now Plastic or  Organic or OLEDs, lasting about 11 years [maintenance free and without any kind of fire hazard) with an efficiecy of 99%].   
       
      Bashir A. Syed  
      ----- Original Message -----
      Sent: Saturday, April 29, 2006 3:04 PM
      Subject: RE: [hreg] Are oil company making windfall profits?
       
      It's to cost to manufacture them,  There is no company that has an assmebly line to make them like they do for DVD players.  Most Fuel Cells are built by hand and no two are extacly the same.  If some company would invest in an automated assembly line to produce them,  they could be made cheaply.  There are no real exotic materials uned in them to drive the cost up.    I saw an ad in a magazine the other day offering a kit for experimenters and educators for building a fuel cell and instructions on how to produce the hydrogen.  Hell in fact I saw at walmat as well a Estes Rocket toy kit that is hydrogen fuel powered.  If you can make your own for a toy,  then it can't cost much to produce Hydrogen for a fuel cell.
       
      This link is for a database of all known none model fuel cell generations systems installed. http://www.fuelcells.org/db/projects.php  You will notice that the majority of them are in Japan, and germany, with the US in third and of those in the US, most are either on Government installations or at Universities
       
      For a good read on fuel cells check out the following link. http://www.dri.edu/Projects/Energy/
       
      Dan S.
      -----Original Message-----
      From: hreg@yahoogroups.com [mailto:hreg@yahoogroups.com]On Behalf Of Tommy Yonker
      Sent: Saturday, April 29, 2006 2:12 PM
      To: hreg@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: RE: [hreg] Are oil company making windfall profits?
      Asking as a non scientist why have the fuel cells not taken off?  Is the energy required to crack water greater than the available energy in the remaining hydrogen?
       
      -----Original Message-----
      From: hreg@yahoogroups.com [mailto:hreg@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Bashir Syed
      Sent: Saturday, April 29, 2006 11:05 AM
      To: hreg@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: Re: [hreg] Are oil company making windfall profits?
       
      Those of us who are scientists and have worked in Space Program know that it is another and Extremely clean way to convert into electrical energy.
      1. FUEL CELLS: As we all know it requires Hydrogen and Oxygen to start as a source, and most easily accessible source of it is water which is electrolyzed and decomposed into hydrogen and oxygen. In other words one requires energy to break apart the Water molecules, i.e. the very first step requires energy to produce another form  or source of energy.
      2. WIND ENERGY:  Now let us compare it with Wind (wherever it's plentiful, it can be used to transform into other forms of energy). But wind turbines cannot operate everywhere, and wherever feasible the wind turbines can provided electricity 24 hours a day. The turbines do require maintenance, and energy can be trasferred to any consumer via transmission lines. Wind is FREE!
      3. SOLAR ENERGY:
      (a) Solar Thermal Energy: It can be used to transfer heat from SUN to water and used as hot water or turned into steam to run steam turbines for generating large scale electricity. 
      Solar Thermal Energy can also be be to preserve food, crops, vegetables, fruit and fish, etc. Solar Thermal Energy can be used to COOK food and Pasteurize Water for drinking. It cuts down deforestation, which effect climate changes. VERY CHEAP!  
      (b) Solar Photovoltaic or PV: Cost, Life & Efficiency is based Technology. 
                     Silicon (MonoCrystalline and Poly-Crystalline: , eff. ~ 14-16 %, Life ~ 25 years, Relatively Expensive, requires
                                 minimum of maintenance of Storage Batteries only in Stand-Alone systems, but practically none for
                                 Grid-tied systems, which reduce utility bills to the consumer.
                     Silicon Thin Film/Amorphous: Eff. ~ 10 % which begins to degrade after about five years; Life ~ 10 years.
                                 Relatively inexpensive. 
                     Cadmium Telluride or CdTe: Eff. ~ 14%, but bad for environmen due to toxicity of Cadmium (only one mfr. in  
                                 USA)
                     Copper-Indium-diSelenide or CuInSe: ~ 13%, cheaper to mfr, not dependent on avaialbility of Silicon
                     Conducting Polymer PV Technologhy: Eff, ~ 13 - 14 % with Carbon Nano-tibes, Life ~ 10 years. Requires
                                Polymer Chemistry to manufacture these PV materials which are being produced in rolls. Most
                                promising   technology.
      Thus you have a great choice to utilze Alternate Energy sources!
       
      Bashir A. Syed
       
       
       
      ----- Original Message -----
      Sent: Saturday, April 29, 2006 11:00 AM
      Subject: RE: [hreg] Are oil company making windfall profits?
       
      I don't know if it has dawned on anyone else,  but the Government really wanted to solve the energy problem, they could have already.  This so called war in Iraq which the Pres says is to build a democrecy is really a move by bush to insure that we have a loyal friend in the mid east to get oil from.  The latest figures that I heard was that they have spent over 300 Billion Dollars on the war so far and maybe more.  Now if they had used that same money on a crash project like they did for the Space race in the 60's, we could already have Hydrogen Fuel cell Technology ready for use in Auto's as well as a unit to power your home.  Just switching half of the vechicles in this country to Hydrogen, would greatly cut the consumption of oil.  Many people will say that it can't be done and it will take 30 years before the technology will be available.  HOGWASH I say.  Fuel cell technology was developed in the 60's for the space program.  All we need is a Pres with the balls to mandate a program like Kennedy did with the Space program to install the inforstructure and manufacture the Fuel cells cheaply.  But since Bush has his hands dirty with oil and oil money and his family and freinds are all in the oil business, this won't happen.  Maybe our next pres will have the balls to really do something about it.
       
      Dan S.
       
      -----Original Message-----
      From: hreg@yahoogroups.com [mailto:hreg@yahoogroups.com]On Behalf Of Jim & Janet
      Sent: Friday, April 28, 2006 3:29 PM
      To: hreg@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: Re: [hreg] Are oil company making windfall profits?
      I seem to recall that, during the '70s oil embargo, it was reported that the Saud Family oil cartel could produce crude oil at fifty cents per barrel if pumping at near full capacity.
      Now that was >30 years ago but I really believe that your bought and long-ago paid for oil infrastructure can produce a barrel of oil for a lot less than $50/barrel today in Texas. That's price at the wellhead.
      Valero and other refinerys are making record $billion profits so the strategy must apply to that industry as well.
      And Congress wants to investigate the retail outlets for price gouging?
      Jim Duncan
      ----- Original Message -----
      Sent: Thursday, April 27, 2006 8:13 PM
      Subject: [hreg] Are oil company making windfall profits?
       
      I need an economist to explain to me why the oil companies are not making windfall profits.
       
      Say I have an oil well in Texas producing x barrels per day at $50 per barrel, the well is drilled and paid for, and I am paying all expenses and making a profit.
       
      SNIP
       
       
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