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re: why can't we produce our own oil?!
16 sep 2000
charles quinn  wrote:

>"lou pogoda"  wrote:

>>unfortunately, if there's any information on cost, i couldn't find it.


about $10k for the residential 7 kw ge/plug power unit, they say. my
understanding is that most of the useful heat output comes from the
reformer (the gadget that converts natural gas into some gas mixture
that will operate the pem fuel cell, which runs a lot cooler (about
140 f) without "poisioning" it.

>...a fuel cell using natural gas (cheap during the summer) can be used
>to make some of the power (cogeneration) used by a facility, significantly
>shaving the bill.

sounds more like "parallel operation," ie "wasting the heat" (about 2/3
of the fuel's heating value) than "cogeneration," aka "combined heat and
power," ie "using the heat," with large potential energy savings as well
as an economic advantage.

>...they are the rage for large computer operations (banks, insurance
>companies) for use in assuring continuous power, they have a higher
>reliability than a diesel engine (less parts and lower maintenance costs).

proton energy systems (prtn(?), with an upcoming 9/25 ipo) makes a
"regenerative fuel cell," ie a "hydrogen battery" for use as a backup
power system for cell phone towers, etc. it connects to the grid and
electrolyzes water into high-pressure h2 (about 200 psi now, 2k psi
in the future, with about 90% efficiency and no compressor) that is
stored in a big tank (an outdoor propane tank, for now.)

if standalone power is needed, the hydrogen is reconverted to electricity
at about 50% efficiency, for an overall kwhout/kwhin = 40%, not counting
the heat that is wasted in making the grid electricity. they say this
hydrogen battery system can replace a large collection of conventional
batteries in conditioned space and a diesel and a diesel fuel tank, with
a much longer lifetime than a battery system, and a lower life-cycle cost.  

>home units are on the way.

h power, northwest power (a division of idaho power, aka idacorp) and
hydrogen burner technology in california may be offering these too.


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