13 February 2008

Fuel Cell Revolution: DCFC's Run On Biomass!?!

Biomass can easily be turned to "bio-coal" carbon. Now, that biomass carbon can be used to drive fuel cells. The only output is pure CO2--the favoured food for plants!
Last year, the director of the Department of Colloid Chemistry at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, Prof Dr Markus Antonietti, developed an innovative technique with which any type of biomass can be converted into renewable and climate friendly 'designer coal'. Uses for the carbon are plenty, but professor Antonietti confessed that he and his researchers are part of a growing group of scientists who dream of a Direct Carbon Fuel Cell (DCFC) and a green carbon economy. As its name implies, a DCFC converts elemental carbon into electricity directly, and in a hyper-efficient way - the cells have almost twice the efficiency of most other types of fuel cells and double that of fossil fuel power plants.

...The reaction yields 80 percent of the carbon–oxygen combustion energy as electricity, yet no burning of the carbon takes place. DCFCs for stationary applications provide up to 1 kilowatt of power per square meter of cell surface area — a rate sufficiently high for practical applications. Some developers are designing DCFCs for mobile applications that can deliver energy densities in the range of 1,000–2,000 Wh/kg, far higher than any advanced battery.

...DCFC technology has several potential benefits over other fuel cells. First, it can use a wide variety of very abundant low cost carbonaceous fuels including coal, coke, tar, biomass and organic waste. Conventional fuel cells typically operate on gaseous fuels. The fuel (natural gas, propane, ethanol, etc.) is reformed to a hydrogen syngas, which is fed into the fuel cell stack. The DCFC, however, can operate directly on solid carbon fuel, which is stable, easy to store, handle and transport. DCFCs don't require the construction of an entirely new and expensive infrastructure - which is the case for hydrogen - nor do they lose the energy needed to turn fuel into gas.

Secondly, unlike hydrogen or methanol fuel cells, DCFC use no catalyst or costly noble metals like platinum. This cuts costs, and should increase reliability.___Biopact

This development has all the makings of a fuel cell revolution. Hydrogen has always been a bad bet for mobile and de-centralised fuel cell applications. It is time to grow out of that childish hydrogen fantasy.

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Blogger mpiekuto said...

In case you yourself want to grow up please follow the following path of enlightenment.Go to ovonics.com > energy business > solid hydrogen storage

read about existing storage system designs that use breakthrough metal hydride technology to store and distribute H2 fuel in a stable, solid form, and so on.
nice meeting ya ;)

Wednesday, 13 February, 2008  
Blogger al fin said...

Thanks for the advice, mpiekuto. Have you ever thought about going into the diplomatic corps?

Hydrogen works very well inside stars, for fusion energy. Hydrogen is also a pretty good rocket fuel. When combined with oxygen, di-hydrogen oxide makes a pretty good beverage.

Hydrogen is not an energy panacea--that is a fantasy for overgrown grad students and daydreaming nerds with too little to do. We could continue to waste billions pursuing that empty dream, but we choose not to.

Wednesday, 13 February, 2008  
Blogger IConrad said...

Ovonics gives no real meat-and-potatoes to their process, so we are left only guessing that this solid hydrogen is also at near absolute-zero temperature (as that is where hydrogen becomes a solid.)

That is pathetically useless as a fuel-resource.

Wednesday, 13 February, 2008  
Blogger al fin said...

Hi Conrad,

I was admittedly tweaking our uci friend a little. It's possible that a safe, efficient, and convenient way to store hydrogen for mobile fuel cell apps may be discovered sooner or later.

I'd put it low on the list of priorities right now.

My favourite fuel cell app for individuals besides an automobile fuel cell, is the home/residence fuel cell for backup power during blackouts and brownouts--or for off-grid purposes. The bio-char powered fuel cells would be great, since you can store a lot of bio-char in 50-100 pound sacks, quite safely.

Wednesday, 13 February, 2008  

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