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Monday, August 6, 2012
Thursday, March 15, 2012
There is a general opinion that Hydrogen is currently very expensive compared to Gasoline and Diesel. It depends on how you generate Hydrogen. We have been using Gasoline and Diesel for several decades and actual cost of crude oil is much lower than what we are paying for Gasoline and Diesel at the service stations. Crude oil is formed naturally and all the costs involved are for pumping, transportation and refining. The cost of energy spent on transportation and refining is also comparatively low. It is the geopolitical situation in the world, supply demand gap, Government taxes and levies, inventory levels, financial market and distributors play a key role in fixing the price of these fuels. Hydrogen can be generated from tap water without involving fossil fuels at all. But Governments are spending on research and development of Hydrogen generation using fossil fuels such as natural gas and coal. It is understandable that these sources are suitable for bulk production of Hydrogen on an industrial scale. We will also be able to use existing fossil fuel infrastructure to the maximum extent. But the flip side of this approach is Hydrogen generated by this route is still not pure enough to meet Fuel cell requirements. This Hydrogen may be suitable for Hydrogen combustion engines. Why they are not suitable? For example, Hydrogen is generated from natural gas by steam reforming,Syngas is generated as an intermediary product which is a mixture of Hydrogen and Carbon monoxide; but also other impurities present in natural gas such Sulfur,Phosphrous and Mercaptans etc.Natural gas has to be purified to remove all these impurities before it can be subject to steam reformation. In spite of an elaborate purification methods adopted, Fuel cell suppliers are reluctant to guarantee the life of their Fuelcell.The Fuel cell uses expensive Platinum as a catalyst which can be readily poisoned by the presence of impurities in Hydrogen, produced from natural gas. This is one of the main reasons why Hydrogen becomes expensive by this route. Industries can pay high cost for this Hydrogen, but ordinary citizens cannot afford to pay. Hydrogen can be generated directly from tap water by simply electrolyzing it using a Direct current such as solar and wind. If we use grid power, it requires about 68kwhrs of electricity, costing about $3.40 per Kg of Hydrogen. Assuming Hydrogen will cost about $5 per kg after compression and storage, it is still worth the cost. This Hydrogen will give a mileage of 73.4 miles/kg using Fuel cell car. This is equivalent to 3.67 Gallons of Gasoline costing approximately $13.76 at the rate of $3.75 per gallon. It is very clear that Hydrogen is cheaper than Gasoline or Diesel. At the current price,Gasoline costs 275% more than Hydrogen gas. By converting existing coal and oil based power plants into IGCC, Integrated Gasification and Combined Cycle plants, Government can reduce the current emission levels of greenhouse gases, and at the same time supply electricity at the prevailing rates. We do not have to import oil or gas. Government should fund conversion of coal and oil fired power plants into IGCC plants and create Hydrogen infrastructure, by producing more Hydrogen Fuel cell cars and Hydrogen service stations. By adopting this policy, US Government can bring down the prices of crude oil in the international market which will help reduce the prices of all other petrochemical products like fertilizers, plastics, drugs and cosmetics. The crux of the issue is to divert petroleum products from fuel use to other uses. At the same time Governments can reduce their greenhouse emissions to the level demanded by scientists. By reducing the cost of solar panels to less than $1.00 per watt, Renewable Hydrogen will become a commercial reality and that will be the end of fossil fuels.
Sunday, March 11, 2012
There are many ways to increase the energy efficiency of an existing system which also helps invariably to reduce your carbon footprint. The inefficiencies breed pollution. Such inefficiencies can emanate from power generation methods or from power distribution methods. Energy cannot be stored but has to be utilized. That is one of the main reasons why the power companies look for large consumers and offer them the lowest tariff. Some industries like Caustic soda plants and Aluminum smelters, consume large power. If you are using power from the grid then you can discuss with your service provider and check whether you can switch over to green power. The tariff may be slightly higher than a standard tariff but certainly helps you to reduce your carbon footprint. Some service providers indicate your carbon foot print by way a chart in their monthly energy bill. Most of the energy providers supply green power such as solar and wind as part of their energy mix to ensure that they don’t lose customers who may insist on green power. You can check various power tariffs in your location such a peak tariff and off-peak tariffs and you will be surprised at the difference. The peak tariff is when everybody use power , normally 9am to 5pm.The usage of air-conditioners during peak hours in tropical countries is high They can use rooftop solar panels with batteries and inverters because many counties in Asia do not have feed-in tariff method by which you can export your surplus solar power to the grid. Moreover they do not have a choice in selecting a service provider because power generation and distribution are mostly runs by Governments or by very few service providers. The best method for such users is to store the solar energy in batteries and use them whenever they want. Even consumers who use grid power can store electricity during off-peak period using batteries and then use them during peak period using an inverter. This is an ideal solution for Asian countries where the power outage is frequent and unexpected. The best method will be to use an Electrolyzer to generate Hydrogen using off-peak power and tape water and store them under pressure. You can generate your own electricity using small Fuel cell .This electricity can be a Direct current that can be readily connected to a host of Direct current operated appliances including your air-conditioners and refrigerators. If your electricity load is relatively high then you can integrate both solar panels and grid power in such a way that you can store enough electricity by way of Hydrogen or in a battery and use them during peak period. By this method you can be certain of an uninterrupted power supply and at the same time a reasonable power tariff. You can reduce your carbon foot print substantially by utilizing solar power with Hydrogen storage. You can choose energy efficient appliances by looking at their star ratings.A star rating of 6 and above is considered very energy efficient. You can choose LED bulbs for lighting and I would suggest using Direct current for LED bulbs directly from Fuel cell or battery rather than from grid supply using an inverter. You can also check the type of refrigerants used in air conditioners and Refrigerators and their star ratings. If you have a roof top solar panel as part of electricity supply then I will recommend to use Direct current operated Air-conditioners and regfigerators.When you choose these appliances you can look for the type of motor, compressor and fans used, because these are the main parts that use electricity. An energy efficient motor and the type of compressor used are critical components in determining the capacity, airflow and noise levels. The energy ratings are based on these factors only. You can save energy and reduce your carbon footprint in every step of the way if you are keen to do it. The most important factor in achieving energy efficiency is an understanding of your contribution to the environment and the prudence with which you can accomplish these goals.
Friday, March 9, 2012
Renewable Hydrogen is the key that can provide us energy independence in the twenty first century. Fossil fuel usage will still continue for some more time because the world has already invested massively on fossil fuel infrastructures. The stacks are too high for them to switch over to renewable over night. It is the Mother Nature who provided us coal, oil and gas all these years using her manufacturing process under the earth over millions of years. But we human beings exceeded her tolerance limit by emitting greenhouse emission by our rapid growth in population and industrialisation.We failed to discover an alternate fuel in time and continued with an age old technology with all its inefficiencies. Inefficiencies breed pollution. We were keen to use the heat of combustion by burning a fossil fuel to generate electricity or drive our cars, but paid no attention to the gases released during such combustion. We learnt Thermodynamics and the relationship between heat and work, but failed to understand the consequences of gases of combustion and its impact on our environment. There are two issues involved in burning a fossil fuel to generate electricity. The heat of combustion is an exothermic reaction and we get certain amount of heat. Then we convert this heat energy into electrical energy and the overall efficiency of such conversion is about thirty-five percent. Only thirty-five percent of the heat input energy becomes electrical energy and the remaining sixty-five percent heat along with gases of combustion are released into atmosphere. Of course part of this heat is recovered in a commercial plant, but the bulk of heat is released into the atmosphere as greenhouse gases. We failed to understand the potential of Hydrogen even though we used Hydrocarbon for several decades. We even discovered Urea, the fertilizer that caused ‘green revolution’ in agriculture, using the same Hydrogen present in the Hydrocarbon feedstock. It is time for us to make best utilization of a fossil fuel to its maximum potential when we burn each kilogram of fuel. We should burn coal not just with air but also with steam so that we can generate Hydrogen rich gas that can run a gas turbine in a combined cycle or run our cars on roads. Such a conversion will lead to a substantial increase in energy efficiency as well as in greenhouse gas emission reduction. Governments in industrialized countries should make it a mandatory to convert all their power plants to syngas generation as described above. They should also discourage new plants using fossil fuels with punitive power tariffs and encourage renewable energy projects with higher tariffs. Governments can also impose similar tariffs for transportation depending upon the fuel used such as fossil fuel or Hydrogen. Governments should encourage renewable energy projects such as solar and wind to generate Hydrogen from water as centralized power plants and distribute DC (direct current) by rural electrification. If the country side is electrified using this system then, agriculture, business and industries can thrive in rural areas. Direct current (DC) distribution net work can be installed in rural areas and encourage people to use energy efficient appliances such as Direct current air-conditioners with energy star ratings and tariffs. Governments can bring about these changes by adopting a ‘carrot and stick ‘policy to encourage renewable and discourage fossil fuels. Solar energy is the key from which all other forms of energy emanate such as wind, geothermal and ocean thermal energy conversion system. It is of paramount importance to increase the efficiency of renewable systems and improve energy efficiencies of appliances we use. It is simpler to use LED bulbs using a Direct current generated by Renewable Hydrogen. It is once again the Mother Nature, who can come to the rescue of human beings through solar, wind and water to generate clean energy for the twenty first century. Energy generation and distribution is no longer a business or revenue issue but a moral and ethical issue for Governments. It is only people who can bring about such sweeping changes by electing the right Government who can care for the environment. The future generation will judge us only based on what kind of an environment we leave them behind.