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This article is about fuel cells at home. I would assume that fuel cells in cars are about the same price or even more expensive:
http://www.greencarcongress.com/2008/08/nippon-oil-to-c.html#more

"Eneos Celltech Co., which is 81% owned by Nippon Oil and the rest by Sanyo Electric, is expected to mass-produce fuel cells with an output of around 1kW each, enough to meet roughly 60% of the power needs of a typical household.
Nippon Oil aims to produce a total of 150,000 fuel cells by fiscal 2015, and plans to lower their price to around 500,000 yen [US$4,600] by then from 2 million yen [US$18,600] or more currently.

So currently the fuel cells cost at least $18600/kW and they hope to lower the price to $4600/kW by 2015. And, of course, the Volt could be using about 50 kW. Even if you use a hypercapacitor bank or a battery for the acceleration, you would still need at least 20 kW for highway driving. Unless there is a real breakthrough in fuel cells, I do not see fuel cells as a realistic alternative in cars.
 

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Surely not in cars, but maybe on the power grid? Some electrolysis guys at MIT just managed to replace the platinum catalyst on the oxygen cathode with much cheaper materials that apparently double efficiency and work at room temperature. Maybe fuel cell setups are almost there for massive energy storage on the power grid :cool:
 

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Surely not in cars, but maybe on the power grid? Some electrolysis guys at MIT just managed to replace the platinum catalyst on the oxygen cathode with much cheaper materials that apparently double efficiency and work at room temperature. Maybe fuel cell setups are almost there for massive energy storage on the power grid :cool:
darthvader420,

That is for electrolysis, as you say. This is what produces the hydrogen that is used in the fuel cell. While it may lead to a big step forward, it does nothing for the cost of fuel cell itself. That said, I think the platinum issue can probably be overcome. There are many other issues that need addressing before hydrogen fuel cells will be practical for cars and they will never be more efficient than batteries. I believe we should be spending more effort on a practical liquid energy carrier.
 

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And where do fuel cells get their energy? The grid or natural gas. How about just skipping the fuel cell and getting solar panels. Seems to make a lot more sense.
 

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So currently the fuel cells cost at least $18600/kW and they hope to lower the price to $4600/kW by 2015. And, of course, the Volt could be using about 50 kW. Even if you use a hypercapacitor bank or a battery for the acceleration, you would still need at least 20 kW for highway driving. Unless there is a real breakthrough in fuel cells, I do not see fuel cells as a realistic alternative in cars.
There is hope:

http://www.monash.edu.au/news/newsline/story/1310

Cheap fuel cells are not totaly unlikely.

If you pay 1000 dollar per kW and you run it 24 hours a day, with interest 7% and for 25 year, you pay 1 cent per kWh.

So, 4600 dollar per kW is still 4.6 cent per kWh. which is way too expensive (you didn't pay for the gas yet, only the fuel cell).

1 cent per kWh is also more expensive than a gas turbine.

If price drops to 400 dollar a kW, grid usage might be interesting.

For the car 100 dollar a kW is required. If that is reached, grid usage is certainly interesting. You can make a lot of power, with low capital cost, ideal for backup power (where you want low capital cost is more important than low fuel cost).

Regards,

Lucas
 

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And where do fuel cells get their energy? The grid or natural gas. How about just skipping the fuel cell and getting solar panels. Seems to make a lot more sense.


You are right that solar is probably the answer. However, solar has a few problems that must be addressed:

1) It cannot match the energy demand curve of our country.

2) You cannot (with today's technology) run a car practically on electricity along.


Once you face these two facts you have to try to come up with a way to move forward. The first problem requires a way to store the intermittent energy in such a way that energy supply can match energy demand.

The best technology we have today is pumped storage hydro. It's far cheaper than batteries and can provide the needed capacity. It can also be built today in huge quantities (there already exists hundreds of GW worth being used in the world today) with reasonable costs.

This solution is not perfect but it can be used today. Dr. Nocera from MIT thinks he solved the problem of electrolysis by coming up with a cheap and plentiful solution. It will take a few years (he says a decade) to develop but it looks extremely promising. That way our renewable, intermittent energy resources can simply generate hydrogen at very high efficiencies to later be put though a few cell (or burned) to easily match energy supply with demand.

The second issue is that we don't have a practical BEV on the road today. Maybe in 10 years we will. However, we need to get working on the transition away from non-renewable transportation fuels today (petroleum poses an immediate threat to our economic and political stability). Plug-in hybrids, NEVs, flex-fuels, CNG, methanol, bio-fuels, etc. are all promising candidates that need to be aggressively developed. That is the only way we will figure out what works and what doesn't. Not every option will work but we only need one solution!
 

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If you have fuel cells / electrolyzers of 1000 dollar a watt, then under 24 hour operation 7% interest rate and 25 year, you pay about 1 cent per kWh capital cost (energy cost not included).

That is quite expensive for backup power (gas turbine is I think cheaper, about 0.5 dollar a watt).

However, if polymer fuel cells /electrolyzers become available for about 100 dollar a Watt (not unthinkable), then you have it for only 0.1 dollar a kWh. And that is quite cheap.

The efficiency will be lower than hydro/batteries etc., so you use them for short storage, but for times that the wind is not blowing for a week, fuel cells/electrolyzers may become an economically solution. A low price/power ratio, ideal for backup power.

I don't know about stationary hydrogen storage. Someone knows? I don't get the impression this is considered an issue.

Lucas
 

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I don't know about stationary hydrogen storage. Someone knows? I don't get the impression this is considered an issue.
Hydrogen storage is only a major issue if you're talking about fuel cell cars and a hydrogen refueling infrastructure. I think you're right about stationary storage, since you don't have the same kinds of space requirements as in a car. You can use huge storage tanks and skip the cooling step.
 

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“ I don't know about stationary hydrogen storage. “ – Ikruijsw

Setting aside financial viability of household fuel cell, you do not have to store hydrogen at least if you live in the cities. Water gas produced from coal or natural gas contains 70% H2 and 30% CO. Supply this mixed gas to homes via existing infrastructure for cooking, heating and electricity generation. You can also produce H2 from renewable and carbon-neutral biomass, if you want…
C + H2O = CO + H2
CO + H2O = CO2 + H2

In Japan already city gas companies are supplying coal- and natural gas-derived water gas for cooking and heating. Therefore, experiments on household fuel cell electricity generation are already under way.
 

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Setting aside financial viability of household fuel cell, you do not have to store hydrogen at least if you live in the cities.
I was more thinking about a closed loop backup system for wind power. If you have asynchronous offshore wind farm, you have first AC (unsynchronized) to DC conversion and onshore you do DC to AC (synchronized). I think it works that way. You can put the storage before the DC to AC conversion, to avoid conversion costs.

Then you put a few hours battery backup for fast fluctuations. And hydrogen storage with cheap fuel cells for peak time. With the high price/power ratio, this might make sense, because then you can deliver high power at demand. So, you become competitive because of the high power, not about cheap energy.

Interesting... We will see what cheap fuel cells can do.

Lucas
 

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...currently the fuel cells cost at least $18600/kW and they hope to lower the price to $4600/kW by 2015....

That's still kind of high when you need 15kW to run a car.

Although, theoreticallly, a smaller fuel cell could be used someday to charge a PHEV overnight or while parked at the mall....
 

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That is quite expensive for backup power (gas turbine is I think cheaper, about 0.5 dollar a watt).
Depends on the price of naturalgas. That was probably calculated at a wholesale price of about 6-7 cents TCF. Spot prices are much higher, right now.
 
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