Skip to comments.Fuel cells get a boost
Posted on 09/17/2004 3:43:53 PM PDT by Indy Pendance
To efficiently operate a fuel cell, carbon monoxide has always been a major technical barrier. But now, chemical and biological engineers at the University of WisconsinMadison have not only cleared that barrierthey also found a method to capture carbon monoxide's energy.
To be useful in a power-generating fuel cell, hydrocarbons such as gasoline, natural gas, or ethanol must reform into a hydrogen-rich gas. A large, costly, and critical step to this process requires generating steam and forcing a reaction with carbon monoxide (CO). This process, called water-gas shift, produces hydrogen and carbon dioxide (CO2). Additional steps then must reduce the CO levels further before the hydrogen enters a fuel cell.
Researchers eliminated the water-gas shift reaction from the process, removing the need to transport and vaporize liquid water in the production of energy for portable applications.
The team, led by James Dumesic, professor of chemical and biological engineering, uses an environmentally benign polyoxometalate (POM) compound to oxidize CO in liquid water at room temperature. The compound not only removes CO from gas streams for fuel cells, but also converts the energy content of CO into a liquid that subsequently can power a fuel cell.
"CO has essentially as much energy as hydrogen," Dumesic said. "It has a lot of energy in it. If you take a hydrocarbon and partially oxidize it at high temperature, it primarily makes CO and hydrogen. Conventional systems follow that with a series of these 'water-gas shift' steps. Our discovery has the potential of eliminating those steps. Instead, you can send the CO through our process, which works efficiently at room temperature and takes the CO out of the gas to make energy."
The research team says the process is especially promising for producing electrical energy from renewable biomass-derived oxygenated hydrocarbonssuch as ethylene glycol derived from cornbecause these fuels generate H2 and CO in nearly equal amounts during catalytic decomposition. The hydrogen could directly go into a protonexchangemembrane fuel cell operating at 50% efficiency, and the remaining CO could convert to electricity via the new process.
For related information, go to www.isa.org/manufacturing_automation.
I enjoy tech news on this kind of stuff. Thanks!
Perhaps if you created the hydrogen from nuclear power it might make sense, but this nation has been traumitized by a Hollywood movie and has quit building them.
Well I haven't been traumitized.
I don't care where the fuel get's burnt.
I don't want to be dependent on Muslim oil.
I don't want to be dependent on fuel that might have a fixed supply and therefore is going to get ever more expensive over time.
I think having alternatives is smart.
And somewhere along the way, we might just find some ways to make and/or capture cheap energy.
Fuel cells have to be developed! Think of the independence we'll have on foreign oil.
We have to start developing alternative fuel sources. We have enough oil in the US (gulf of mexico, alaska) to make a dent in foreign resouces, but the envirnomentalists have a cow everytime it's brought up.
Right on. Oil Shale, anyone?
WHat the fuel cell they're talking about does, is convert hydrocarbons like gasoline/propane/whatever directly into electricity, instead of burning it in an engine's pistons.
Fuel cells promise to be be less polluting, and may turn out to be more fuel efficient
My hubby is extremely interested in this. He has tons of knowledge regarding this, but, he doesn't post. He finally got an account after 6 years of lurking tho. So, if he posts on this thread, be gentle....
When You oxidize CO you get CO2 or carbon dioxide. A GREEHOUSE GAS - Horrors
Plus every time you convert energy from one form to another you stand to loose about 50%.
I agree. Alternative energy is not a green issue now. It's national defense. Let the middle east rot.
That's not correct. It doesn't convert into electricity at all.
Libs want us to be neutral and independant of Arab fuel (and politics) like the Swedes. Only problem is, the Swedes use Nuke plants.
See Fuel cell definition: A fuel cell is an electrochemical device similar to a battery, but differing from the latter in that it is designed for continuous replenishment of the reactants consumed; i.e. it produces electricity from an external fuel supply as opposed to the limited internal energy storage capacity of a battery.
What they are talking about is a process that allows efficient use of hydrocarbon compounds, rather than pure hydrogen, by making use of the carbon monoxide product of the reaction where hydrocarbon plus oxygen turns into carbon dioxide and water. More info at the link
There is no free lunch in physics. Hyrdrogen is, at best, a battery, for energy created elsewhere.
Folks, I posted this years ago and will do so again now:
Make shore generators and install them on beaches not used by the public. They're used in Scotland right now and generate electricity using flotation devices on arms that rise and fall with the surf, turning turbines.
THEN, use that electricity generated to power electrolysis banks that takes in the seawater and seperates the hydrogen from the oxygen.
THEN, package the oxygen into easily-transportable cannisters to be sold at refueling depots nationwide. Much like propane bottles are now.
It NEVER ends and will NEVER be exhausted.
I guess not.
Well the first part sounds reasonable for a renewable source of electricity. I'm not so sure about seperating water into hydrogen and oxygen. (BTW, I think you meant to say "package the hydrogen into easily-transportable cannisters...") It would be difficult to ship the hydrogen gas from the coastal production facilities to all the places where it would be used. That would probably require a costly new pipeline system because I don't think you could mix it in with natural gas. Shipping the hydrogen in canisters would also be expensive and not enough could be shipped to contribute much to our energy supplies. But it sounds like this idea has a lot of potential for power generation in coastal areas and perhaps the hydrogen could be used in fuel cells produced near the coast.
Just one last comment...I believe we need a much more flexible system for electricty production that doesn't rely entirely on huge power plants run by utility companies. There's a role for solar panels during sunny weather, a role for wind power during windy weather, and probably a role for this kind of wave power generation in coastal areas. It seems to me the electric power industry has a strangle-hold on power production and distribution and much more could be done at a local distributed level in coordination with the power companies. It looks like the whole system is driven by the generation costs of electric power companies and nothing much else factors into the design of our power generation system. Meanwhile we grow ever more dependent on oil and natural gas.
The battle-cry today is, "NO DEPENDANCY ON FORIEGN OIL!"
Uh, better catch-phrase is, "Keep my pension fund out of companies linked to state sponsors of terrorism!"
we will be growing more corn and creating enegry in Iowa to be shipped via a grid pipeline - could happen.
You are entirely correct. Using electricity to break down water into hydrogen and oxygen, then using the hydrogen in a fuel cell, represents a net loss of electricity
So it's not power-plant->electricity->hydrogen->fuel-cell->electricity
It's fuel->fuel-cell->electricity instead of fuel->internal-combustion-engine->generator->electricity
H2 is a energy carrier, not a source....they are doomed to failure. Never go to a gun fight armed with a knife......
Why don't you just dump any power from the shore generators that is in excess of current customer demands into hydrogen production. H2 produced then could be stored in underground sealed caverns (think the the salt domes used by the Strategic Oil Reserve) and use a "Strategic H2 Reserve" in conjunction with industrial-scale heat recovery fuel cells to generate power at a later time.
In this system, any irregularities between shore power supply and customer demands would be buffered by H2 production / generation. Most power plants cannot put "lightning in a bottle" but under this plan you could. Also, you could then use the exisiting electrical grid to get the power where it's most needed faster than by new pipeline, truck, rail or barge.
There's a lot of farm acerage that we pay farmers not to grow stuff. If can use this approach with any carbon based fuel, there's a lot of fuel stock that America can grow each year and who cares about using herbicide.
THAT'S THE SPIRIT!
If it would ever get off the ground, it would become massive and make the creators TONS of $$$$$$$$$$$!
IF they could get the damn treehuggers outta the way. They'd probably say something lame like, "The surf generators are causing shorelines to not be eroded naturally and the fish are being pounded TO DEATH!! YAAAGGGHHH! DAMN CAPITALIST BAAAAASTARDS!!!"
Check out what the French have been doing with tidal generations without a peep from the envirno-nuts:
"Tidal energy traditionally involves erecting a dam across the opening to a tidal basin. The dam includes a sluice that is opened to allow the tide to flow into the basin; the sluice is then closed, and as the sea level drops, traditional hydropower technologies can be used to generate electricity from the elevated water in the basin. Some researchers are also trying to extract energy directly from tidal flow streams.
The energy potential of tidal basins is large the largest facility, the La Rance station in France, generates 240 megawatts of power. France is the only country that successfully uses this power source. French engineers have noted that if the use of tidal power on a global level was brought to high enough levels, the Earth would slow its rotation by 24 hours every 2,000 years."
Taken from: How Tidal Power Plants Work
I need to clarify myself. Hydroelectric plants do put "lightning in a bottle" in a sense as they have all that stored potential energy behind the dam and can have instanteous power output by opening the tap. Dams can quickly meet the needs of customers without producing greenhouse gases but greenies don't like them either. There's a concerted effort to remove dams and "return rivers to their natural course". That means more carbon-based power plants.
This is an article about the fuel cells intended to be used in biomass digestion and it is being studied in Wisconsin...
This article should be subtitled "How cowpies will save the US". The entire energy requirement for the process is contained in the manure fuel, there is no added energy.
The plan is to put these digesters on farms not necessarily a big single processing facility. This has a number of important effects.
We are able to recover energy from a fuel that is normally wasted, making us less dependent on foreign oil.
Each farmer now has another product to sell, electricity, making them less dependent on subsidies and other programs.
The fact that millions of farms are tougher to knock out than a couple of nuke plants makes our energy supply more stable from a strategic perspective.
The environmental regulations and the pressures they cause to domestic agriculture production become a moot point as the solid waste is sterile and the liquid discharge exceeds drinking water standards. There are minimal greenhouse gasses escaping from a farm with this technology. This adds up to a major blow to the power of greenies and their ilk.
Since the entirety of the solid waste can now be used as fertilizer, which farmers in many areas cannot due to environmental regs, some farmers will not need to use petroleum based fertilizers making our foreign dependence less and increasing the economic viability of farms which also lessens their dependence on agri-welfare.
These are just a few reasons off of the top of my head. There are a number of other reasons to support this kind of technology and it needs to be pursued vigorously and immediately.
It takes more energy to run a fuel cell than you can get out of it. It is impossible to defy the laws of physics.
They could play a role in reducing the need to burn hydrocarbons for transportation. But that's only if you don't burn hydrocarbons in order to create the hydrogen. If you use hydrocarbons to create the hydrogen to replace the gasoline, you'll actually use more hydrocarbons than if you used gasoline in the first place. That's a fact. It's not opinion.
If you use something else as the initial fuel source to create the hydrogen, then you'll obviously conserve hydrocarbons. You suggest cow poop. Another Freeper suggested wave action. Another mentioned solar power.
All that is fine. Combined, they might be able to deliver the energy equivalent to a few dozen gas stations. Let's even imagine hundreds. There is no way on God's Green Earth that they could create enough hydrogen to power even a small fraction of our automobiles in this country. Pound for pound, there is nothing that releases as much energy as oil. Except one.
Something the USA has tons of.
Mark my words. I'll probably be dead before this happens, but by the middle of this century, this nation will have gone through the gut-wrenching debate on whether to shift to a primarily nuclear-powered source of national energy. This nation will have to choose whether it wishes to increase the supply of energy in order to continue to grow, or whether to plunge into a never-ending depression because of the imagined fears of nuclear power. The era of hydrocarbons isn't over, and probably won't be for at least another 100 years, but it simply can't keep up with the rise in global population and the emergence of economies in places like China and India.
Cow poop isn't going to fill the gap.
I was a grad student in uranium geochemistry when the Three Mile Island incident happened. (Actually, I had hired on with a company in the oil industry two weeks before.) I have been in the oil industry since.
"The China Syndrome" wasn't the nail in the nuclear coffin.
IMHO, the industry will eventually make a comeback.
The pension fund is a good observation.
Inherent in the idea of "No dependancy on foriegn oil" is the concept that if we have to buy foriegn oil now, in order to avoid using up our own, that's ok.
Yeah, I say suck the Mideast dry while looking for alternatives while the well runs dry. That means marching up to the Caspian Basin...
That isn't true... I saw a CBS/60 Minutes report that you can now get more energy out of something than you put in....they have a memo that did just that. 8-)
One paper published online proposes that the thermal gradient could be used for energy generation, H2 producton and liquefaction for storage. see link
Researchers Succeed In Fueling UpThe principle behind fuel cells is not new-it was discovered in 1839... Basically, a fuel cell is a device-think of it as a high-tech battery-that converts the energy of a fuel (hydrogen, natural gas, etc.) and an oxidant (air or oxygen) into useable electricity... There are no moving parts and it produces little noise. Unlike traditional combustion engines that currently dominate the energy market, fuel cells do not produce any particulate matter, nitrogen or sulfur oxides; when fueled by pure hydrogen, they have only heat and water as by-products... To date, hydrogen has been the conventional fuel for a fuel cell. But practical generation and storage of hydrogen has been a problem-it's expensive and inefficient. The model developed by Gorte's team aims to get around this dilemma... Previous attempts to use hydrocarbon fuels to run a solid-oxide fuel cell failed because the electrochemical process that generates electricity caused a buildup of carbon, which ruined the cell. In a solid-oxide fuel cell, oxygen anions are transported through an oxide membrane and react with the fuel at the anode... The Penn researchers were looking for an anode material that did not result in fouling... Eventually, they settled on a composite of copper and ceria. Ceria is an important catalytic component of automotive catalysis, which is why the researchers focused on its properties... Says Gorte, "Running a car is a transient process and you've got to have a pretty big fuel cell to power it, something on the order of 50kw as opposed to a 5kw cell to power a house, for instance." ...At least one major automotive manufacturer is seriously studying this technology... Their work has generated a great deal of excitement and was touted in Nature magazine (3/16/00). Professor Gorte has been interviewed by MSNBC.
by Jane BrooksFuel-cell future for gasoline?"We've demonstrated that we can run a fuel cell directly on hydrocarbons like gasoline and diesel," researcher Ray Gorte told MSNBC. "In the past, everyone assumed you had to use hydrogen." ...The new process not only gets around the problem of delivering and storing hydrogen, Gorte says, it means a fuel cell that produces "less carbon dioxide for a given amount of energy" than other fuel cells because higher efficiency can be achieved... [I]t could provide a valuable interim technology that's easier to deploy and still provide much cleaner and higher mileage than internal combustion engines... Gorte, head of chemical engineering at the University of Pennsylvania, sees the research as a "breakthrough," saying an earlier attempt to use gasoline essentially required putting "a refinery in your trunk" to get the hydrogen... Gorte's team used a "solid oxide fuel cell," while others have tended to focus on "proton-exchange membranes." ...One hitch is that the cell is sensitive to sulfur, so that gasoline would have to be cleaned further to make it a viable fuel... Gorte is optimistic about its potential, saying his team hopes to work with a major car company that has created a solid oxide fuel cell division. He would not identify the company, saying he wasn't sure if it was willing to go public yet... Kevin Kendall, a chemical engineer at Britain's University of Birmingham, writes in a Nature article accompanying the study that while hydrogen is "the ultimate clean power source of the future" it is still expensive to extract it, difficult to store and prone to explosion.
by Miguel Llanos
March 15, 2000Coal-to-liquid solution for energy woesAmid continuing violence in the Middle East, the issue of energy security is again on the front burner. With oil prices rising to a peak of US$40 (S$68) a barrel, countries have been looking at alternative energy with a greater urgency. This heightened sense of urgency, fortunately, has come at a time when there is evidence that a new approach using existing resources and technology can provide alternative energy to many countries.
by David Dapice
July 19, 2004
Posted on 07/20/2004 9:27:15 AM PDT by Baby Bear
A glimmer of good news recently appeared: China signed an agreement with Sasol, a South African energy and chemicals firm, to build two coal-to-liquid fuel plants in China. These plants, costing US$3 billion each, are reported by the Financial Times to jointly produce 60 million tonnes of liquid fuel (440 million barrels) a year. Since China imported 100 million tonnes of oil last year, these plants would give China much control over its domestic energy situation, though its demand is growing fast.
There is no mention AT ALL in this article about automotive fuel cells. The type of fuel cell that is being developed for automotive uses is a PEM type fuel cell.
BUT THIS ARTICLE HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH PEM FUEL CELLS
The PEM fuel cell uses a membrane as an electrolyte. This membrane is highly sensitive to impurities - the impurities accumulate within the membrane and degrade its performance accordingly. PEM fuel cells CANNOT use reformed fuel because very minor amounts of sulfur and chloride will quickly degrade the cell.
The article is still important though - for PAFC type fuel cells. PAFC fuel cells have found good use as a power supply for large buildings (factories, apartment complexes, etc). These devices are about the size of a small one car garage. Such PAFC fuel cell units have built in reformers, and yes, CO removal is a significant part of the reformer.
This is good news for fuel cells, BUT IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH CARS
Perhaps, someone has learned from history and / or has something on the drawing boards?
George W. Bush will be reelected by a margin of at least ten per cent
George W. Bush will be reelected by a margin of at least ten per cent
How Long Will the Oil Age Last?
Popular Science ^ | August 2004 | Kevin Kelleher
Posted on 07/31/2004 1:48:26 PM PDT by SunkenCiv
Kerry's Energy Agenda: Higher prices, more foreign dependency.
National Review Online ^ | August 12, 2004 | Cesar Conda
Posted on 08/14/2004 6:06:35 AM PDT by xsysmgr
Report Questions Bush Plan for Hydrogen-Fueled Cars
NY Times ^ | February 6, 2004 | MATTHEW L. WALD
Posted on 02/07/2004 6:00:36 PM PST by neverdem
The Chinese Navy is doing a pretty good job of putting their own subs on the bottom all by themselves.
For example, here's a study on just exactly that.
We could ween off of the oil import, put lots of miners and truckers back to work and then work on the longer term solutions of Fuel Cells.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.