[extropy-chat] 'Cool' fuel cells

Jeff Davis jrd1415 at yahoo.com
Fri Jul 23 00:19:40 UTC 2004


Size, weight, lower operating temp, reduced cost, and
higher efficiencies is what caught my eye.  In

"would provide ... electrical energy ... at an
efficiency of approximately 65 percent. ... a twofold
increase over power plants ... at 30 to 35 percent." 

UH researchers developing efficient, practical power
source alternatives


"Compared to the macroscopic size of traditional fuel
cells that can take up an entire room, thin film SOFCs
are one micron thick – the equivalent of about
one-hundredth of a human hair. Putting this into
perspective, the size equivalent of four sugar cubes
would produce 80 watts – more than enough to operate a
laptop computer, eliminating clunky batteries and
giving you hours more juice in your laptop. By the
same token, approximately two cans' worth of soda
would produce more than five kilowatts, enough to
power a typical household." 

Keeping in mind that one thin film SOFC is just a
fraction of the size of a human hair with an output of
0.8 to 0.9 Volts, a stack of 100 to 120 of these fuel
cells would generate about 100 volts. When connected
to a homeowner's natural gas line, the stack would
provide the needed electrical energy to run the
household at an efficiency of approximately 65
percent. This would be a twofold increase over power
plants today, as they operate at 30 to 35 percent

SOFCs, in general, operate at 900 to 1,000 degrees
Celsius, a very high temperature that requires exotic
structural materials and significant thermal
insulation. However, the thin film solid oxide fuel
cell has an operating temperature of 450 to 500
degrees Celsius, one half that of current SOFCs. This
lower temperature is largely a result of the
drastically decreased thickness of the
electrolyte-working region of these thin film SOFCs
and negates the need for exotic structural materials
and extensive insulation. The lower temperature also
eliminates the need for catalysts (known as reformers)
for the fuel cell. All of these features indicate a
reduced cost for the thin film SOFC and positive
future impact on the fuel cell market. 

Best, Jeff Davis

   "Everything's hard till you know how to do it."
                           Ray Charles

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