Fuel Cells in the news

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RicodJour wrote: ...

Indeed, it is.
Ambivalent, at best, in general is my position.
To show it's not a new topic (is there any? :) ), was a discussion subject in an engineering honors seminar during my undergrad days some 40 years ago, now...
My concern then, as now, is how does one estimate and measure the lost opportunity cost? Who knows what some enterprising entrepreneur would have done or where some venture capitalist or corporate R&D organization would have put the capital that meanwhile went to chasing the current governmental largesse?
On a more mundane level, as member of Board of a local rural electric co-op trying to supply low-cost, reliable power to our members (almost all production farm operations) it is becoming increasingly difficult to do so what with the mandates for wind and other technologies that are purely legislative-driven, not economically.
Even here in the heart of the windy country, wind farms generate only 40% of installed capacity on an annual basis with months that are only 20%. Since even if they were to operate at an equivalent capacity factor to conventional generation the mill cost is higher owing to high construction costs on a /kwh basis since while there is no fuel cost it is an extremely dilute source (as is solar) when accounting for such excess installed capacity to provide a given level of power the effective cost is nearly double that of conventional generation on our grid. Add to that the requirement for standby generation owing to the variable nature of the fuel source and it is not an economic solution for our members but we're being forced that direction by regulation and legislation.
The construction of the facilities would not be progressing in anything at all approaching the present levels if it were not for the tax incentives and the alternative generation percentage mandates.
Even in a small grains-producing area, the same ambivalence is present with ethanol and biodiesel. It isn't clear there should be a mandate unless there is an actual economic benefit overall even though it has made some support in grain prices that effect has been very small relative to the other global effects such as the fires in Russia and drought and other production problems in the other major producing areas. Of course, thrown into that mix is the hangup on trade agreements in the past and current congress that have been strong negatives in the export markets relative to where they could have been as well...
It's a humongously large and complex subject not particularly amenable to actual meaningful discussion here so I'll retire forthwith... :)
I do, however, wish to make clear that claims of nirvana need in-depth consideration of the implications and assumptions and what are the undisclosed support costs involved such as those of the fuel cell project here...as many other tangible and perhaps intangible benefits as the project may have, it's highly unlikely that w/o the ability to have passed the cost on to another funding source the same decision would have been reached as the cost-effective one.
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On Tue, 21 Sep 2010 09:55:32 -0700 (PDT), RicodJour

Check out the raw number of lights in a school as compared to a home. When you flip the switch in a single classroom, you are turning on more lights than contained in a complete typical McMansion. One classroom.
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On Sep 21, 1:20 pm, snipped-for-privacy@dog.com wrote:

And you're source for that claim would be? Still think the $6.5mil fuel cell facility, paid for by the taxpayers as part of the Obama stimulus that hasn't done much stimulating, is a swell idea? These fuel cells typically reduce energy costs by 20 to 40%. They run on NG, not moon beams, so you still need to put fuel in them. You think shelling out $6.5 mil to cut energy bills by 20 to 40% at two schools makes any economic sense? The only real sense it makes is for the recipient to cash in on the gravy train while they hand out money that the govt has to borrow.
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On 9/21/2010 5:24 PM, snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

And you can't use natural gas directly since only hydrogen can only be used in fuel cells. Natural gas is mostly methane (CH4) so you need to strip off the carbon atom. That is typically done by a process called reforming.
But if someone else is picking up the tab fuel cells are certainly a wonderful thing..
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it depends on the fuel cell. http://blog.mapawatt.com/2010/02/02/residential-natural-gas-fuel-cells / http://www.naturalgas.org/environment/technology.asp#fuelcells http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuel_cell
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On 9/21/2010 6:33 PM, AZ Nomad wrote:

Yes, it incorporates the reforming into the same package as the fuel cell but as far as I know no one has yet brought anything to market.
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Obama has ridden that horse to a lot of success. So, it works on some folks. Just look how his TARP, stimulus, and government tax and spend have improved the economy! I heard on the radio today that they are standing by with more stimulus if the economy doesn't improve rapidly. I'm sure so glad that unemployment didn't go over 8% like they promised it wouldn't Someone pass the ipecac, I can't take any more.
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On 9/21/2010 11:54 AM, snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

Exactly, I have had to look deeply into the "alternate energy" space for my job and pretty much none of it can stand on its own merit. So the government needs to pull lots of money out of the pockets of other folks to subsidize it.

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In the modern USA, there are plenty things I don't call wonderful. Which others pay for.
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Interesting approach to making the numbers work even better!
http://fuelcellsworks.com/news/2010/03/10/fuel-cell-project-weston-reaches-agreement-with-clp /
Man will never fly!
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On Sep 21, 12:26 pm, snipped-for-privacy@dog.com wrote:

Here's some real numbers for you and it also show who paid for the REAL cost of this fuel cell for the elementary schools:
http://www.cityofnewhaven.com/pdf_whatsnew/Stimulus_Final_const%2012%2010%2008.pdf
$6,500,000 Utility Plant that will provide mechanical / electrical services for new schools - Hill Central and Clemente School - inclusion of Fuel cell for minimizing peak electrical demands.
That's right, according to the City of New Haven, the total cost of the "fuel cell project" was $6.5mil in federal stimulus money. How long do you think the payback on that will be? Answer: You could have put far less money in bonds and the interest would have paid the electric bills forever. That helps show how economically viable it was and should make you feel real good knowing how they spent your tax money. I'l bet it created a few jobs somewhere along the way too.
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Smitty Two wrote:

Heh!
It would take a solar collector farm the size of the Los Angeles basin (~1200 sq miles) to supply the power needs of California, about 50 GW.
Oh, it's doable - but everybody in Los Angeles would be living in the shade.
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I believe his point is not one that is relevant to technology advancement. His point is that the total available energy from the sun is such that even with a highly efficient solar cell to convert all the energy to electricity, it would still take an enormous array. I haven't verified the calculations, but I've seen the point made before. It's like saying there is only X BTUS of energy in a pound of coal that can be extracted regarded of how good the efficiency is.
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wrote:

if it were that close to "economically viable"(or even just "viable"),tax dollars would not be necessary for their R&D.

he's not listening....

DREAM on.... you also overlook the CLEANING of those rooftop solar cells. Or storm damage,bird droppings,etc.

spreading democracy means that with many other nations similar to ours,there will be far fewer conflicts and less human misery around the globe. free,democratic nations are peaceful nations.
Besides,no matter how you generate electricity,it's not going to power your cars,trucks,or airplanes. Those will still depend on oil,for the foreseeable future.
Of course,there's DOMESTIC oil production and refining,if we can get past the "progressives".
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Smitty Two wrote:

Why not subsidize the quest for perpetual motion? Blood from turnips? I know, gold from lead!
The total energy of the sun falling on the earth (not reflected or absorbed by the water cycle) is about 1.4Kw/m^2 at the ecliptic.
Not all of this is usable by a solar collector (ultraviolet, X-rays, etc.).
I won't bore you with the math (maths is hard), but adjusting for day/night, latitude, clouds, and other disruptions, you'll get down to an average of about 250Watts/meter^2. Then you have to allow for efficiency of the collector, conversion loss from DC to AC, etc.
You'd be lucky to get to 150W/m^2. For 3,000 sq ft of shingles, you'll reap about 3kw.
The ONLY way to improve this number is to move the orbit of the earth closer to the sun.
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wrote:

You can't really be THIS stupid, can you? I'm surprised you remember to breathe.
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snipped-for-privacy@smallboots.com wrote:

Well, it sure as hell won't help to move the earth's orbit FARTHER AWAY from the sun!
Geeze! Some people!
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Smitty Two wrote:

Energy "independence" is a myth, because oil is fungible.
Suppose we could develop enough oil to supply our domestic needs at, say, $50/bbl.
Somewhere in the world, somebody will be able to deliver oil at $49/bbl. Our domestic users will quit buying US oil and get the foreign stuff, just like they do now. There is no shortage of domestic oil; there is only a shortage of CHEAP domestic oil.
Now inasmuch as most of the oil we import is used in transportation, windmills, nuclear power, and other stationary forms of power generation won't work until we develop motors that can use stored electrical energy and the infrastructure to supply it. No form of energy is currently available to replace petroleum.
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wrote:

And only an idiot would insist on a single solution as the only possible approach.
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wrote:

Oh? where does the FUEL come from?

Only if Comrade Obama succeeds in geting Carbon Control enacted,and keeps the nuclear power industry stifled.

"doable",but not PRACTICAL in large scale. Or it's "doable" with a drastically lowered lifestyle.

no matter what,solar still has the limitation of only generating power during daylight hours,with reduced output during inclement weather and cloudy periods. Also needs a lot of water to keep the panels/mirrors clean.
OTOH, nice,safe,clean,reliable nuclear runs 24/7/365,and provides lots of good paying jobs.
While solar panels are and will be made overseas.
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