Fuel Cells - A Big Future and Better than a Battery

There's more to renewable energy than just wind and solar power - hydro, wave, geothermal to name a few. Discuss these RE alternatives here!

Re: Fuel Cells - A Big Future and Better than a Battery

Postby vajras » Sat Jan 02, 2010 2:47 pm

CnCandy wrote:The Blue Gen unit will probably Gobble Natural Gas like nobody's seen but gas is cheaper the more you use!
...It's all a mute point since its just moving the point of generation from the Coal plant to a gas plant in your house. Does say you get some water out of it in the conversion process and about 200L of free hot water which isn't so bad.
@ CnCandy - not moot at all

Here's a description and the real maths taken directly from their website!

The fuel cell is a m-CHP unit, i.e. micro-combined heat and power unit.

Conventional power in Victoria flows like this -

1. Power station converts fuel into electricity at approximately 60%-70% loss

2. Electricity travels on power lines at a 5%-8% loss

3. House receives only 22% - 30% of originally generated electricity.

CFC's m-CHP unit under your sink receives 100% of your gas supply (it's actually no bigger than a small dishwasher!)

1. the fuel cell gives you 50% electrical output and 35% hot water from the residual heat generated but with a 15% energy loss solely attributable to the current poorly designed and constructed hot water tanks sold here (fix that with better insulation etc etc etc and the loss is less).
2. The electricity is produced at the point of use, so there are no transmission & distribution losses over long distances.
3. The heat generated by CFCL's SOFC system is captured and used for heating (and possibly cooling) requirements in the home.

The value can be shared across the stakeholders:

Utility
* Increased margin - as more electricity is produced per unit of fuel consumed
* Capital cost reduction - delayed investment in centralised generation as m-CHP can fill the supply shortfall
* Reduction of transmission costs - as the power is already generated at the point of use
* Stable base load electricity - produced on the low voltage side of the grid

Consumer
* Unobtrusive - silent operation & similar size unit to existing appliances
* Energy security - with the fuel cell generating electricity close to home
* Environmentally friendly - smaller greenhouse footprint
* Possible reduced energy costs

Environment

* Reduction in greenhouse gas emissions
* Ability for measuring and capturing carbon credits

Research has shown that houses are becoming more energy efficient and require less heat.

To find out more why CFCL are developing highly efficient electrically lead solid oxide fuel cells, visit the facts and trends section http://www.cfcl.com.au/Content.aspx?PageID=216

Disclosure: i am not from the company but am a shareholder and have been for the past 5 yrs as i believed in this idea when it was first invented in Victoria 5 yrs ago. During that time i have watched my inital investment grow 350% which i consider to be a spectacular ROI and has been my best in more than 40 yrs, in fact ever.

i also have a 2.8kW solar array on my roof which has entirely pays for my family's electical needs for yonks and also generates for us an income of over $2500/year from the FIT. In fact this house pays no utility bills whatsoever! Why should i not want to make more money by being greener! - hee hee - Win/win for all, eh?

BTW - CFC have binding contracts to supply 10's of 1,000's if not 100's of 1,000's of these and other larger industrial units from now and endlessly into the future to state power companys in Europe, the UK and also Japan and now in Victoria here in Oz too.

If Australia's worst polluting power coys, Vic's brown coal stations, can be reduced if not shut down entirely then everyone in Australia will meet their CPR targets and without ANY Australian govt having to anything either here or internationally ever. It is Vic's brown coal power stations that are stoiopping Australia meeting any target - shut em down and the whole plant wins.
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Re: Fuel Cells - A Big Future and Better than a Battery

Postby Smurf1976 » Sun Jan 03, 2010 9:48 pm

Where would we get all the natural gas these units would need from?

Victoria's gas-fired generation (gas turbines and the Newport steam turbine plant) are already constrained in their operation by gas network limitations. Meanwhile, Bass Strait gas is disappearing at an alarming rate and we're still going to need it for non-electricity purposes for years to come.

OK, we could get gas from Queensland or WA at international LNG market prices and build a lot of pipelines, but that idea is (1) rather expensive and (2) filled with a lot of security of supply type risks to be relying on one source of fuel for basically everything.
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Re: Fuel Cells - A Big Future and Better than a Battery

Postby AskGerbil » Sun Jan 03, 2010 11:28 pm

Smurf1976 wrote:Where would we get all the natural gas these units would need from?

Victoria's gas-fired generation (gas turbines and the Newport steam turbine plant) are already constrained in their operation by gas network limitations.


In stage 1, a relatively small number of fuel cell units are fueled using the natural gas that would otherwise get used inefficiently in these large gas-fired power stations. (The fuel cells are more efficient - producing more electricity per volume of gas - AND save extra energy by supplying space and water heating at the same time.

In stage 2, with greater market penetration of fuel cells, existing coal-fired power stations can be closed down. Some of the coal that these power stations waste because of their very poor efficiency can be gasified. (The rest can be left in the ground.) The electricity from the fuel cells results in less than 400 kg of CO2 emissions per MWh, less than 40% of the emissions from the coal-fired power stations they replace (over 1,000 kg of CO2 per MWh).

In stage 3, the third and final stage, coal-mining and coal gasification are gradually phased out. Natural gas is increasingly supplied from large-scale solar/aquatic plant ponds that remove CO2 from the atmosphere. Lots of waste that currently goes into land-fill (plastic, paper packaging, kitchen and garden wastes...) all goes into gasifiers too, along with sewage sludge. Waste water is used to supply nutrients for growing aquatic plants that also go into gasifiers to supply natural gas.

For details on which the above is based, have a read of the papers at this web page: http://www.gerbilnow.com/hydrogen-ccgt
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Re: Fuel Cells - A Big Future and Better than a Battery

Postby mikef » Tue Jan 12, 2010 1:50 pm

Its is a great idea.

Well thought of and a step in the right direction. Stage 3 is the best winner.

Algae is going to be very important in relation to our power requirements with a lot of work going into bio fuels from algae.

Look forward to hearing more.
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Re: Fuel Cells - A Big Future and Better than a Battery

Postby AskGerbil » Fri Jul 30, 2010 7:34 pm

vajras wrote:No price has been set for the CFC BlueGen units yet but they did announce this week that Neco in Blackburn, VIC will be distributing them.

Ceramic Fuel Cells Appoints Neco to Sell BlueGen Gas-to-Electricity Units

And as Victoria has the world’s highest CO2 emissions per capita if these CFCL units replaced just 7% of Victoria's electricity from brown coal, the State would achieve the Federal Government's target of a 5% reduction in CO2 emissions, well before 2020.


A recent announcement -
CFC BlueGen units will be available in NSW and the ACT through Harvey Norman: "Australia’s leading and most progressive retailer, Harvey Norman to sell gas-to-electricity units - fuel cells cut CO2"
( Harvey Norman to sell gas-to-electricity units )

In the US, a large university is generating all its power and heat from bio-methane: "UNH Completes Nation's First Major University Landfill Gas-to-Energy Project - With Video"
( Landfill Gas-to-Energy Project )

For an alternative Micro Combined Heat and Power appliance: "How does freewatt work?"
( Save energy, resources and money )

:D
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Re: Fuel Cells - A Big Future and Better than a Battery

Postby wappinghigh » Sun Dec 12, 2010 8:09 pm

OMG.
I was just going to ask about running the Ceramic Fuel Cell Bluegen with a solar setup, then I found out the price ( 2KW system) . I mean is it any wonder I haven't seen them in the Harvey Norman stores...

I've been waiting for ages for this device (I had read an initial figure of around 10K some months back)

I am completely dumbfounded! Was that a misprint? I mean tell me it's not true? 45K. Then you have the gas running costs. Is this for real or have I just woken up in a parallel universe?.....
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Re: Fuel Cells - A Big Future and Better than a Battery

Postby AskGerbil » Mon Dec 13, 2010 10:45 am

I understand the BlueGen fuel cell systems are expected to fall in price when production volumes have increased.

This situation is precisely the same as that of solar panels. That is, the solar energy industry argues government grants and feed-in tariffs are needed to achieve a critical volume of sales so that production costs per unit can eventually be brought down.

Nevertheless, even if the BlueGen fuel cells are at present $45,000 for a 2 kW system, they are already superior to the price-performance of solar photo-voltaic panels. My reasoning for making this statement are as follows:

1. A 2 kW BlueGen fuel cell can produce 2 kWh of electric energy every hour of the day, 24 hours per day and 365 days per year. This totals 17,000 kWh in one year. (The unit also produces heat energy to supply all the hot water requirements of a household. This is in addition to 17,000 kWh of electric energy.)

2. 13 months ago I installed a 1 kW solar photovoltaic system on my roof. Federal Government grants and RECs totaled nearly $10,000. (An $8,000 grant courtesy of the Australian taxpayer, plus RECs worth perhaps $1,500+ ?) This system produced almost 1,700 kWh of electric energy in 12 months. (Less than 1/10th of the output of just one 2 kW BlueGen fuel cell system.)

3. You would need to buy 10 of these 1 kW solar photovoltaic systems to produce the same amount of electric energy as just one 2 kW BlueGen fuel cell system produces. (Cost: $95,000+) In addition, if you wanted to turn on any lights or other electric devices at night, you would need to make a very substantial further investment in deep storage batteries. The BlueGen fuel cell system produces electric power at night and on cold, cloudy days when my solar photovoltaic system has been fairly dormant.

4. If you wanted to take a hot-shower, in addition to 10 x 1 kW solar photovoltaic systems costing $9,500+ each, you would also need to invest in a separate system and buy fuel to provide hot water.

The above cost-benefit analysis compares 2 investment options to deliver comparable outputs (that is: 17,000 kWh electric energy in one year, plus hot water plus 24-hour per day availability).

In addition, if you are concerned about climate change and CO2 emissions - even at its current price that can be expected to drop with more widespread use - the BlueGen fuel cell system delivers far greater reductions in CO2 emissions per dollar of capital investment than 1 kW solar photovoltaic systems. (It does so be avoiding the need for coal-fired power to provide the electric energy and hot water that the BlueGen system produces with a very substantially lower output of CO2. The net saving in CO2 output is what is most important in this comparison.)

I have no connection with either CFCL (the BlueGen developers) or Harvey Norman (the BlueGen retailers). The above information is based on my assessment of two technologies that are available to address climate change.

Regards,

Sokkha Dunstan
CEO
Gerbilnow
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Re: Fuel Cells - A Big Future and Better than a Battery

Postby franks » Mon Dec 13, 2010 11:22 am

But, what about the security and supply of natural Gas, in the future the price of Gas will not stay cheap for ever!
3.04kW Grid Tie system 16 of 190W PVs, Samil 3.3kW
3.8kW PV Stand Alone Off Grid.. 5-8kWHr Per day
24 of 190W PVs
Midnite Classic 150 & Lite MPPT
8 of 6V 600 AH flooded cells (24 volt 1200 AH)
Outback VFX3024E Inverter Charger
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Re: Fuel Cells - A Big Future and Better than a Battery

Postby munter » Mon Dec 13, 2010 11:35 am

All good point Sokkha. What I'd like to see is for fuel cells to be installed in conjunction with PV to make a constant output generator. While distributed PV could be thought to reduce grid demands, I think utilities are still concerned about the intermittent output and that to really achieve reductions in transmission infrastructure we some how need to convert intermittent sources to constant output. PV in conjunction with fuel cells could do that.
If a residence could provide high reliability generation then I think they could make a fair argument that they should no longer be required to pay transmission charges and so they could share in the benefits of reliable distributed generation through much lower electricity bills.

I see that this doesn't really counter the points you made as to the advantages of fuel cell over PV but thought exploring the combination of both might be an interesting idea and yield some benefits. For example, if the fuel cell were to run at full output as per your example, would a typical house actually be able to use all the waste heat or would it exceed the requirement and then need to be discharged to the environment (with the reduced resultant efficiency)? Perhaps shutdown of the fuel cell through the day time while solar provided the power could result in improved efficiency, lower gas consumption and lower emissions?
http://renovations08.blogspot.com/ - my energy efficiency blog
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Re: Fuel Cells - A Big Future and Better than a Battery

Postby AskGerbil » Mon Dec 13, 2010 11:50 am

franks wrote:But, what about the security and supply of natural Gas, in the future the price of Gas will not stay cheap for ever!


Work on developing renewable natural gas supplies is not standing still.

Last week, 8 December 2010 the ACT Government announced a policy initiative:
"Energy-from-waste technologies, such as anaerobic digestion, pyrolysis and gasification provide opportunities to reduce the ACT's greenhouse gas emissions through production of energy"

(At ACT government website: http://www.chiefminister.act.gov.au/media.php?v=10238 )

This follows Gerbilnow's submission on the ACT Government draft energy policy in March this year. See that submission (text only copy at http://www.environment.act.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/185273/16._Gerbilnow.pdf, copy with images and links to related reference sources - http://www.gerbilnow.com/sustainable ) for further details.

Efforts are continuing on several fronts for converting solar energy into renewable natural gas resources.

Sokkha Dunstan
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