Using power from the grid to split water and store the resulting hydrogen
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3. Business Case
6. Success Criteria
- Splitting water and storing the resulting hydrogen is another approach is to use power from the grid. Fuel cells have the potential to replace the internal-combustion engine in vehicles and provide power in stationary and portable power applications because they are energy-efficient, clean, and fuel-flexible. Hydrogen or any hydrogen-rich fuel can be used by this emerging technology.
- Both fuel cells and batteries have two electrodes separated by an electrolyte. As with batteries the energy is converted to electrical form by chemical reactions but unlike battery cells the energy is derived from fuel which is dissipated in the discharge process and the fuel cell is "charged" by providing fresh fuel. In operation fuel cells run hot or very hot.
Wikipedia Glossary of fuel cell terms
- Ammonia Synthesis - The concept is to use energy generated by remote or offshore wind turbines to perform "solid-state ammonia synthesis" and transport that ammonia by land or sea to be used as a fuel. This obviates the need for distant wind farms to be expensively connected to the grid
- NFRC - National Fuel Cell Research Center at The University of California at Irvine is the location of the . The mission of the NFCRC is to promote and support the fuel cell industry by providing the research, development and demonstration of fuel cell technologies. NFCRC's goal is to become a focal point for advancing fuel cell technology by creating partnerships with industry and state and federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the California Energy Commission.
- MCFC -Molten Carbonate Fuel Cells - Operate like SOFC’s, except the electrolyte consists of liquid (molten) carbonate, which is a negative ion and an oxidizing agent. Because the electrolyte loses carbonate in the oxidation reaction, the carbonate must be replenished through some means. This is often performed by recirculating the carbon dioxide from the oxidation products into the cathode where it reacts with the incoming air and reforms carbonate.
- PAFC - Phosphoric-Acid Fuel Cells - Comprise the largest segment of existing CHP products worldwide and can provide combined efficiencies close to 90% (35-50% electric + remainder as thermal) This type of fuel cell uses liquid phosphoric acid as an electrolyte. The electrodes are made of carbon paper coated with a finely-dispersed platinum catalyst, which make them expensive to manufacture. They are not affected by carbon monoxide impurities in the hydrogen stream. Phosphoric acid solidifies at a temperature of 40 °C, making startup difficult and restrains PAFCs to continuous operation.
At an operating range of 150 to 200 °C, the expelled water can be converted to steam for air and water heating. Phosphoric acid fuel cells have been used for stationary applications with a combined heat and power efficiency of about 80%, and they continue to dominate the on-site stationary fuel cell market.
PEM - Polymer Electrolyte Membrane - The Nafion membrane currently costs $565.92/m². In 2005 Ballard Power Systems announced that its fuel cells will use Solupor, a porous polyethylene film patented by DSM
- PEMFC - Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cells - A type of fuel cell being developed for transport applications as well as for stationary fuel cell applications and portable fuel cell applications. Their distinguishing features include lower temperature/pressure ranges (50-100 degrees C) and a special polymer electrolyte membrane.
|Fuel Cells Overview|
|Size Range||100-200 kW||1 kW - 10 MW||250 kW - 10 MW||3-250 kW|
|Fuel||Natural gas, landfill gas, digester gas, propane||Natural gas, hydrogen, landfill gas, fuel oil||Natural gas, hydrogen||Natural gas, hydrogen, propane, diesel|
|Environmental||Nearly zero emissions||Nearly zero emissions||Nearly zero emissions||Nearly zero emissions|
|Other Features||Cogen (hot water)||Cogen (hot water, LP or HP steam)||Cogen (hot water, LP or HP steam)||Cogen (80°C water)|
|Commercial Status||Some commercially available||Likely commercialization 2004||Some commercially available||Some commercially available|
- Environmentally Friendly
- Efficient - Compared to the internal combustion engine which operates at about 30%.
- Quiet - Operate silently.
Patents for fuel cells far exceed those for other sources of green power
- Durability - Stationary fuel cell applications typically require more than 40,000 hours of reliable operation at a temperature of -35 °C to 40 °C (-31 °F to 104 °F), while automotive fuel cells require a 5,000 hour lifespan (the equivalent of 150,000 miles) under extreme temperatures. Current service life is 7,300 hours under cycling conditions.
The stacks that make up a fuel cell, and create the reaction that produces electricity, often last only about two to five years. This is common for different types of fuel cells like solid oxide fuel cells (Bloom Energy makes this type) or proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells, like what ClearEdge Power builds.
A fuel cell’s stacks fill a chamber called the hot box, and it’s this chamber that gets swapped out of these fuel cells every few years. The stack contains a catalyst, often platinum, which, when combined with the fuel source (natural gas or hydrogen) and oxygen create electricity. Over time, as the fuel and oxygen are constantly being pumped in and run over the catalyst in the stacks, the chemicals start to degrade and the system starts to wear down.
The short life span of the hot box is a key problem for the capital costs of fuel cell makers. The hot box can make up a significant portion of the fuel cell, as high as 50 to 75 percent of the cost of the system.
- Efficiency- The efficiency for hydrogen storage is typically 50 to 60% overall, which is lower than pumped storage systems or batteries. About 50 kWh (180 MJ) is required to produce a kilogram of hydrogen by electrolysis, so the cost of the electricity clearly is crucial, even for hydrogen uses other than storage for electrical generation.
- At $0.03/kWh, common off-peak high-voltage line rate in the U.S., this means hydrogen costs $1.50 a kilogram for the electricity, equivalent to $1.50 a US gallon for gasoline if used in a fuel cell vehicle. Other costs would include the electrolyzer plant, hydrogen compressors or liquefaction, storage and transportation, which will be significant.
- Cost - Hydrogen is expensive to produce. The membranes inside the fuel cells don't last long and the membranes also require lots of platinum to generate the electricity-producing reaction. The entire world production of platinum isn't large enough for 10 million cars.
In 2002, typical fuel cell systems cost US$1000 per kilowatt of electric power output. In 2008, the Department of Energy reported that fuel cell system costs in volume production are $73 per kilowatt. The goal is $35 per kilowatt. In 2008 UTC Power has 400kW stationary fuel cells for $1,000,000 per 400kW installed costs. The goal is to reduce the cost in order to compete with current market technologies including gasoline internal combustion engines. Many companies are working on techniques to reduce cost in a variety of ways including reducing the amount of platinum needed in each individual cell. Ballard Power Systems have experiments with a catalyst enhanced with carbon silk which allows a 30% reduction in platinum usage without reduction in performance.
- Water and Air Management in PEMFCs - In this type of fuel cell, the membrane must be hydrated, requiring water to be evaporated at precisely the same rate that it is produced. If water is evaporated too quickly, the membrane dries, resistance across it increases, and eventually it will crack, creating a gas "short circuit" where hydrogen and oxygen combine directly, generating heat that will damage the fuel cell. If the water is evaporated too slowly, the electrodes will flood, preventing the reactants from reaching the catalyst and stopping the reaction. Methods to manage water in cells are being developed like electro-osmotic pumps focusing on flow control. Just as in a combustion engine, a steady ratio between the reactant and oxygen is necessary to keep the fuel cell operating efficiently.
- Temperature Management - The same temperature must be maintained throughout the cell in order to prevent destruction of the cell through thermal loading. This is particularly challenging as the 2H2 + O2 -> 2H2O reaction is highly exothermic, so a large quantity of heat is generated within the fuel cell.
- Carbon Monoxide Tolerance of the cathode is limited in PEMFC’s
- ACAL Energy Ltd, Runcorn, Cheshire, England - A leading developer of low cost Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) Fuel Cells systems, powered by ACAL Energy's proprietary platinum free cathode technology (FlowCath®)
- Ballard Power (NASDAQ: BLDP) Burnaby, BC - Designs and manufactures clean energy hydrogen fuel cells. Their FCgen family of products delivers the Power to Change end user applications and business results.
- Backup Power - Enhances telecom network reliability with fuel cell powered backup power solutions.
- Residential Cogeneration - Enables consumers to gain energy independence in Japan using a fuel cell cogeneration system.
- Bloom Energy - Sunnyvale, CA - The Bloom Box, a refrigerator-sized generator made by this Silicon Valley startup produces emissions-free energy. The box combines biofuel or natural gas with oxygen via a chemical reaction. With an estimated price tag of $700,000, a Bloom Box generates about 200 kW, enough electricity to power 100 American homes. The manufacturer says it will eventually market hand-held units powerful enough to run a single home for $3,000. The power will reportedly be cheaper than that purchased from standard power plants. Is the box as game-changing as its backers believe? Well, as 60 Minutes put it, it may just do to the power plant what the laptop did to the desktop because it doesn't require a grid. Google was the first to sign up for a Bloom Box, and other big names such as Walmart and FedEx have also come on board, touting its efficiency.
Bloom Energy had closed yet another round of $150 million in funding, which would bring its funding raised to over $550 million.
- Ceres Power (LSE: CWR.L ) - Developing fuel cell technology for use in small scale combined heat and power products for the residential sector and in energy security applications. Targeting global mass market opportunities in microgeneration for use in residential, commercial and leisure applications worldwide.
- CleanEdge Power - Sunnyvale, CA - sells a 5-kilowatt fuel cell for $56,000, or more than $10,000 a kilowatt. ClearEdge's stationary fuel cell takes natural gas and runs it through a membrane to produce hydrogen, heat, water and carbon dioxide. The hydrogen then passes through a second membrane to produce electrons before delivering electric power and heat to the building.
In August 2011, ClearEdge Power announced that it has raised a series E round of funding of $73.5 million, from a combination of new share sales and the conversion of previously issued notes. This round brings the company’s funding to about $100 million. Investors in ClearEdge’s latest round include Artis Capital Management, Güssing Renewable Energy, Sempra Energy’s Southern California Gas Company and Kohlberg Ventures.
- Doty Energy - Columbia, SC - Plans to use off-peak wind energy to efficiently synthesize fuels, like gasoline and diesel, from CO2 and water. According to the company founder, David Doty, strong arguments for the concept include:
- the energy storage density in stable liquid fuels is two orders of magnitude greater than the energy storage density in batteries,
- the energy stored in liquid fuels can then be used seamlessly within our current transportation infrastructure, and
- the chemical processes being developed promise the scalability needed to competitively replace petroleum-based fuels. Doty's process electrolyzes water and combines the generated hydrogen with CO in a Fischer-Tropsch process to produce the liquid fuels.
- EnStorage - Israel - Fuel Cell startup raised $15 million in a Series B financing round. from U.S. private equity fund Warburg Pincus led the round, and was joined by all of EnStorage’s current investors, including Greylock Partners, Canaan Partners, Siemens TTB, and Wellington Partners.
- Neah Power, Bothell, Washington - Neah's product is a Direct Methanol Fuel Cell, but instead of using a PEM (proton exchange membrane), Neah uses porous silicon with a metalized surface. The porous silicon allows for a forty-fold increase in surface area and a potentially significant increase in power density.
- Plug Power (NASDAQ: PLUG) - Latham, NY -
- The low-temperature GenSys fuel cell system provides remote, off-grid, and primary power where grid power is unreliable or non-existent.
- The high-temperature GenSys fuel cell system operates parallel to the grid as a replacement for traditional furnaces and boilers in residential and light commercial applications. The combined heat and power (CHP) system runs on natural gas at a temperature between 160° C and 180° C, making it compatible with existing home heating systems – working seamlessly with radiant, forced air or baseboard hot water.
- Hydrogenics (NASDAQ: HYGS) Mississauga, Ontario (US - Valencia, CA)- Has over 60 years of experience designing, manufacturing, building and installing industrial and commercial hydrogen systems around the globe Major manufacturers of PAFC technology.
- IdaTech (LSE: IDA.L) Bend, Oregon -The firm's fuel cell technology is made of PEM (polymer electrolyte membrane -- also called proton exchange membrane) variety, and the main market focus is on telecom cell tower back-up. Cell tower back-up might seem mundane but it is an enormous and growing market. IdaTech was floated on London's AIM in 2007. The firm shipped 445 systems in 2009 and doubled its 2008 revenue from product sales to $4.5 million, while managing to post an operating loss of $33.5 million.
- Oorja Protonics - Fremont, CA - Specializes in methanol fuel cells, in Q1 2010 released a fuel cell capable of generating 5 kilowatts of power, enough to run a home or small business or to provide backup power to cell towers. It will sit on large forklifts and can be used for auxiliary power for trucks, RVs or marine applications, or for off-grid power for homes or farms. For larger applications, the fuel cells can be chain-ganged together. Connect twenty of them and they would be capable of generating 100 kilowatts of power -- as much energy as the recently unfurled Bloom Energy Server.
- UTC Power (also known as UTC Fuel Cells) South Windsor, CT, a unit of United Technologies (NYSE: UTX) . As of 2005, there were close to 300 "PureCell" 200 kW PAFC units by UTC Power in service globally. PureCell Model 400 Fuel Cell System –
This fuel cell powerplant produces 400 kilowatts of electricity and heat approximately 1,700,000 Btu per hour) suitable for CCHP applications.
- 2010 Fuel Cell Technologies Market Report , produced by the Breakthrough Technologies Institute, provides an overview of trends in the fuel cell industry, including product shipments, market development, and corporate performance. The report indicates continued growth in commercial deployments, especially material handling equipment like forklifts and lift trucks, combined heat and power (CHP), and back‐up and auxiliary power unit (APU) applications. The report shows that fuel cell costs continue to fall, noting that the high-volume cost of automotive fuel cells declined to $51 per kilowatt, an 80% reduction since 2002. Commercial sales continue to grow as the number of fuel cell units shipped from North America quadrupled between 2008 and 2010. With increasing market penetration, falling costs, and significant improvements in performance and durability, positive trends in the fuel cells market are expected to continue into 2011 and beyond. Released by DOE July 2011
- DOE - Hydrogen, Fuel Cells and Infrastructure Technology
- California Energy Commission – Fuel Cells
- Year-End Reflections on the Fuel Cell Industry in 2010 - Greentech Media Eric Wesoff