Monday, March 19, 2012

How to power your home and fuel your car with Hydrogen?

There is a general opinion that Hydrogen is dangerous or explosive; people are often reminded of Hindenburg accident or Hydrogen bombs. Hydrogen is as safe as Gasoline or Butane gas. It should be handled with care like any combustible material. We have used Hydrogen in industries for so many decades and transported by pipelines across thousands of kilometers; the methods and procedures of handling Hydrogen is well established. It is a very light, colorless and odorless gas and it can easily escape into the atmosphere. Hydrogenation of vegetable oils for production of certain Margarines is one of the classical industrial examples of Hydrogen usage. When 100m3 Hydrogen is compressed to 10,000psi pressure, it is reduced to just 0.163 m3 by vlume.That is how the Hydrogen storage space is reduced in passenger cars. This volume of gas can give a mileage of 652 miles using Fuel cell power. The only emission is just pure water vapor! No noise, no smoke and it is entirely a new experience driving a Hydrogen Fuel cell car. Powering your home with Hydrogen or fuelling your Fuel cell car is not very difficult. It is expensive compared to grid power for two simple reasons. Grid power is generated by power generation companies somewhere else using coal, oil or gas and transmitted across to millions of people.Therefore investment on power generation is shared by millions of people through their monthly energy bills. When you use the grid power, you do not pay any large sum except, a small deposit of few hundred dollars towards connection fee, and you pay your bills based on your monthly electricity usage. But when you try to generate your own power using a solar panel or Fuel cell then you have to make an investment fully upfront. Of course your bank can help financing the system. However, when you calculate the energy cost over the life period of 25 years, you can clearly see the value of such investment. The grid power cost will only increase and never decrease while your generation cost will decrease as the time passes. The future energy cost is likely to increase substantially due to various factors. You can export surplus power to the grid and your payback time will be reduced as the energy cost increases. The first step in powering your home is to calculate your power requirements accurately in terms of watt.hrs.How many appliances you will be using and how many hours you will using each of these appliances per day. Suppose you estimate 15,000 watt.hrs/day or 15kwhrs/day of power, and then a small Fuel cell consuming 1 Kg/day of Hydrogen or 30 kgs/month of Hydrogen will be sufficient to meet your power demands. Similarly you can calculate the amount of Hydrogen you will be using as a fuel for your Fuel cell car. For example if you will be driving your Fuel cell car for 1000 miles per month, then your Hydrogen requirement will be about 14 kgs/month. Your Hydrogen requirement per month for both power and car together will be 44 kgs only. Your total power requirement to generate the above Hydrogen will be 2464 kwhrs/month costing less than $250 per month for both power and fuel. Of course, you need to calculate other fixed costs on the investment. You can export your solar power at a higher tariff to the Government and import your power requirement from the grid during off-peak season at a lower tariff and generate Hydrogen and store it. You can generate your power as and when you need, and you are in complete control of your situation, even if there is a blackout due to grid failure!