December 2010

12.01.2010
Statue Cruises Orders Fuel Cell Powered Hybrid Ferry
(view article)

12.06.2010
New Low Energy Water Treatment Purifies, Desalinates and Makes Hydrogen, Too
(view article)

12.07.2010
GM to Streamline Production of Fuel Cell Systems
(view article)

12.07.2010
Horizon's Hydrogen Fuel Cells Fly Elbit Systems' Skylark I-LE UAV
(view article)

12.08.2010
Hawaii Expands Push to Fuel Hydrogen Cars
(view article)

12.08.2010
Nanoparticles Could Lead to Better Fuel Cells
(view article)

12.13.2010
London's Hydrogen Fuel Cell Bus Fleet Takes to the Road
(view article)

12.13.2010
Dredging Today -- IHC Merwede and Bredenoord Run a Sustainable Dredging Test
(view article)

12.17.2010
Researchers Develop Organometallic Fuel Cells
(view article)

12.17.2010
Harbor Commissioners Agree to Split Cost of Emission-Free Vehicles
(view article)

12.22.2010
$74 Million in Fuel Cell R&D Funding Offered by DoE
(view article)

12.23.2010
Fuel Cell & Hydrogen Energy 2011 to be Largest Energy Conference in 22 Years
(view article)


December 01, 2010
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Statue Cruises Orders Fuel Cell Powered Hybrid Ferry

HORNBLOWER HYBRID

Statue Cruises, a subsidiary of Hornblower Cruises & Events., has signed an agreement with Derecktor Shipyards in Bridgeport, Conn., to complete the world's first hybrid ferry using hydrogen fuel by April 2011.

The new 1,400-horsepower Hornblower Hybrid will run on a combination of energy generated by Tier 2 diesel engines, hydrogen fuel cells, solar panels and wind turbines. Power will come from a proton exchange membrane fuel cell that turns hydrogen into electricity. In addition, solar panels and wind turbines will help power the vessel. The Tier 2 diesel engines kick in to cover additional energy needs.

The New York Hornblower Hybrid follows the 2008 launch of the San Francisco Hornblower Hybrid, the United States' first hybrid ferry. San Francisco-based Hornblower Cruises & Events created both vessels and operates Statue Cruises, the concession holder authorized by the National Park Service, Department of the Interior to serve the public at the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island.

"By combining hydrogen, solar and wind power, Hornblower will minimize its environmental impact as we transport guests to popular national landmarks like the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Our goal is to reduce emissions to the greatest extent possible, with a goal in the future to eliminate them entirely during a cruising day," says Terry MacRae, CEO of Statue Cruises and Hornblower Cruises & Events. "We expect this pioneering project to inspire continued industry innovations. The technology on the Hornblower Hybrid is now scalable for other hybrid ferries, hybrid yachts and even hybrid tugs. Some may say we are at the turning point in modernizing marine technology and Hornblower plans to be leading the way."

"This is a genuinely breakthrough project, not only for us but for the U.S. marine industry. This boat will produce minimal carbon emissions and sip, rather than guzzle, diesel fuel. Along the way it will help make New York harbor a cleaner, safer and more pleasant place. As a local shipyard, we're extremely pleased to have this project," says Gavin Higgins, Derecktor Vice President for Business Development.

On completion, the 600-passenger vessel will feature an outdoor sundeck and two spacious interior decks - including one with glass walls that showcase the region's landmarks and cityscapes.

Eco-friendly materials will be incorporated throughout, from recycled glass countertops, to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified carpet and aluminum wall coverings that eliminate the need for wallpaper. Flat-panel LED video screens and LED lighting will minimize energy use, while long-life, low VOC paints will cover the boat's exterior. Hornblower has been testing these paints, including some without the copper that impacts water quality and wildlife, as part of an EPA-funded project taking place in its San Diego port.

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December 06, 2010
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New Low Energy Water Treatment Purifies, Desalinates and Makes Hydrogen, Too


university of colorado researchers develop microbial fuel cells that treat wastewater, create electricity and produce hydrogen

In an amazing sustainability quadruple play, researchers at the University of Colorado Denver are working on a fuel cell that can desalinate water, treat waste water and generate electricity in a single process, while producing hydrogen gas that is re-used to make the treatment process run efficiently. What’s amazing about it is that the operation is run by microscopic living organisms that exist all around us and even inside of us, otherwise known as microbes – yes, microbes.

Microbial Fuel Cells
Fuel cells produce energy through a chemical reaction, so the use of living beings might sound a bit far fetched but let’s not sell the little critters short. After all, microbes came to the rescue of all human life when our planet was viciously attacked by alien invaders with superior technology (at least according to H.G. Wells in the sci-fi classic War of the Worlds). More to the point, researchers have been already demonstrated the ability of microbes to generate electricity as they metabolize food, and the result has been an emerging generation of fuel cells that can scavenge energy from parts of the environment where large colonies of bacteria can be found, which basically means you can get a fuel cell to run on wastewater or even on mud.

The New Super-Duper Desalinating Microbial Fuel Cell
The Colorado researchers have stepped up the microbial fuel cell – wastewater connection to include a desalination capability, and that’s where it gets interesting. They were stumped for a while on how to get the whole operation to run efficiently, until they investigated the potential for storing the hydrogen waste gas from the process. Building on research conducted at Penn State University, the team produced a study demonstrating that the process results in enough hydrogen to run the desalination component. Not only that, it creates excess hydrogen that can be put to other uses.

The U.S. Navy and Microbial Fuel Cells
The Office of Naval Research is behind the Colorado study, which should come as no surprise.  For obvious reasons, the U.S. Navy has a long term interest in developing high efficiency desalination processes, and now it foresees a future in which entire ships are powered by microbial fuel cells which can scavenge energy on-the-go from seawater. Bio-based fuel cells and batteries are also of great interest to other branches of the armed services, so it’s a safe bet that microbial fuel cells will cross over into mainstream civilian use…especially if the incoming Congress continues funding for new energy research.

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December 07, 2010
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GM to Streamline Production of Fuel Cell Systems

General Motors (GM) hopes to slash the costs of its hydrogen fuel cells by 75 per cent as it targets a significant rise in alternative fuel vehicle sales by 2015.

The US-based car manufacturer, which owns Vauxhall and Opel in Europe, plans to develop new production methods to halve the size, weight and number of parts of the company’s fuel-cell system (FCS) while more than tripling its lifetime.

Engineers at the firm’s fuel-cell engineering centre in Mainz-Kastel, Germany, are also involved in research to cut the amount of platinum catalyst used by each system to less than 30g.

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GM’s next generation of hydrogen cars will build on the technological breakthroughs made by the company’s HydroGen4 model, of which 100 units have been produced at a cost of around €500,000 (£424,000) each.

‘We know what the technical architecture should be like, now we have to look for how to mass produce the cars to get the costs down,’ GM Europe’s hydrogen and fuel-cell deployment strategy manager, Dr Lars Peter Thiesen, told The Engineer.

He said that, by 2015, GM hopes to be ready to produce several thousand fuel-cell cars a year for around 25 per cent of the current costs for each FCS.

Hydrogen fuel-cell cars only emit water vapour, so could become an invaluable tool in attempts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions if a non-polluting way of producing enough hydrogen can be developed.

They have the advantages of longer range and shorter refuelling time than battery-powered electric vehicles – the HydroGen4 can travel up to around 200 miles on a tank of hydrogen and takes less than three minutes to fill up.

However, the high costs and limited durability of fuel-cell technology have so far prevented hydrogen cars from appearing on the roads outside of limited trials.

GM plans to address these issues by redesigning its FCS to integrate many of the parts within a smaller system, reducing the mass from 240kg to less than 130kg.

The firm hopes a better voltage recovery and a specifically designed humidity control system will also help increase the fuel cell’s lifetime from less than 50,000km and 1,500 hours to around 200,000km and 5,500 hours.

http://www.theengineer.co.uk/Pictures/web/e/b/p/TE_Opel_200.jpg
Almost half the costs of the fuel cell are tied up in the platinum used as a catalyst. GM hopes to reduce the amount of platinum used in each FCS from 80g to 30g by combining it with nickel to form alloy nanoparticles.

Further developments could also see the use of much larger nanoparticles with a thin platinum-alloy coating and an affordable material core.

While new engineering and manufacturing methods will cut the cost of the FCS, mass production will also bring down the car’s overall price tag from the handmade premium of each HydroGen4.

‘The best method is to bring the technology together with an existing model so that we don’t have to develop the car as well and we can produce it on the same production line as ordinary cars,’ said hydrogen and fuel-cell research strategy manager Dr Rittmar von Helmolt.

If successful, GM’s plans could establish the company’s place as one of the leading manufacturers in the fuel-cell sector. Toyota has revealed similar ambitions to commercialise a hydrogen vehicle by 2015, while Honda currently leases 30 of its FCX Clarity fuel-cell cars in the US and Japan.

GM/Opel is also part of a 13-company consortium formed in Germany to develop hydrogen vehicle technology and infrastructure, which includes Shell, BMW, Ford, Toyota and Volkswagen.

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December 07, 2010
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Horizon's Hydrogen Fuel Cells Fly Elbit Systems' Skylark I-LE UAV

http://www.shephard.co.uk/files/news/190x190/horizon_fuel_cell_uav.jpgHorizon Energy Systems announced the successful test flight of its AEROPAK fuel cell power system onboard Elbit Systems Skylark I-LE UAS (Unmanned Aircraft System).

An official test flight was recently carried out in Israel. The test flight was without precedent, since it is the first ever test of a fully operational system using the Horizon AEROPAK fuel cell power system, including take-off and recovery with an operational payload integrated onboard. Equipped with the AEROPAK fuel cell system, Skylark ILE will offer its users enhanced flight duration, doubling the current endurance of the UAS. Delivering 900Wh net usable energy per liter of fuel, Horizon's new AEROPAK power system successfully passed Skylark I-LE tests with flying colors, proving it is suitable and rugged enough for military use.

The Skylark I-LE is a tactical man-portable UAS, currently used in close range beyond -the-next-hill surveillance and reconnaissance missions by several nations. The silent electric UAS is highly autonomous from take-off to recovery, providing covert operation with maximum simplicity and efficiency. Designed for robust operation in various environmental conditions, the Skylark I-LE system entered operational service in 2004 and has accumulated over 20,000 hours of successful operations, in some of the most demanding conflict zones around the globe.

Simulating real battlefield conditions and an actual payload in order to test the limits of the new fuel cell technology, Skylark's new AEROPAK-enabled propulsion engine was subjected to a number of operating scenarios. These tests included repeated take-offs and abrupt landings on various terrains to determine if the fuel cell was sufficiently ruggedized to withstand high levels of shock. The UAS was also flown in windy and turbulent weather to gauge the AEROPAK's capability to sustain continuous high power drain from the aircraft's motor.

Richard Liow, UAS systems manager at Horizon Energy Systems in Singapore, further commented "The AEROPAK has passed Elbit Systems tests and is now proven to be a ready drop-in replacement for battery packs currently in use. We are immensely proud of this achievement and believe that the AEROPAK powered Skylark I-LE will be an unparalleled combination".

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December 08, 2010
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Hawaii Expands Push to Fuel Hydrogen Cars

GM_Hawaii_Fuel_Cell_Vehicle_05

Hawaii may be the first state in the nation to successfully build a fueling infrastructure that will support thousands of hydrogen fuel cell cars.

Today, the Detroit auto manufacturer General Motors, in partnership with the Honolulu-based utility the Gas Co., announced they are partnering with 10 additional companies, government agencies and universities to help implement a plan that would tap into Oahu's 1,000-mile utility pipeline and supply hydrogen to the many fuel-cell vehicles expected to come on the market in 2015.

"We have 12 organizations all combining resources to work on a plan that will lay out a hydrogen infrastructure in Hawaii and make hydrogen a reality," said Charlie Freese, executive director of global fuel cell activities for General Motors.

General Motors is providing 20 Equinox fuel cell vehicles to the project known as H2I, or the Hawaii Hydrogen Initiative. The Gas Co., which makes hydrogen as a byproduct of the state's synthetic natural gas production, is providing the hydrogen. The two entities formed a partnership over the summer to help further Hawaii's Clean Energy Initiative, a 2008 plan for the state to generate at least 70% of Hawaii's energy needs through clean, renewable sources.

Joining the GM-Gas Co. partnership is UC Irvine, which has been involved in the siting of hydrogen stations in Southern California; the university will help determine the best locations of hydrogen fueling stations on Oahu. The University of Hawaii will also provide simulations to help optimize the rollout of the island's nascent hydrogen infrastructure.  

The National Renewable Energy Lab will determine the cost implications of different infrastructure configurations.

Aloha Petroleum, one of the largest fuel station operators in the state of Hawaii, may be involved in the operation of hydrogen fueling stations.  Louis Berger Group will do the actual construction of the refuelers.

Also involved are Fuel Cell Energy, maker of stationary fuel cell systems; the County of Hawaii, which may expand the Oahu intiative to Hawaii's big island; the U.S. Pacific Command, supported by the Air Force, Army and Marine Corps in the Pacific, all of which may be using fuel-cell vehicles on the island; and the U.S. Department of Energy.

"We're setting up Hawaii to be the first hydrogen state in the country," said Freese. "It's not enough for a company like us to pledge to make fuel-cell vehicles. We need to have the vehicles and infrastructure come togehter at the same time in a coordinated way."

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December 08, 2010
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Nanoparticles Could Lead to Better Fuel Cells

By Anne Ju

Fuel cells may power the cars of the future, but it's not enough to just make them work -- they have to be affordable. Cornell researchers have developed a novel way to synthesize a fuel cell electrocatalytic material without breaking the bank.

The research, published online Nov. 24 in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, describes a simple method for making nanoparticles that drive the electrocatalytic reactions inside room-temperature fuel cells.

Fuel cells convert chemical energy directly into electrical energy. They consist of an anode, which oxidizes the fuel (such as hydrogen), and a cathode, which reduces oxygen to water. A polymer membrane separates the electrodes. Fuel cell-powered cars in production today use pure platinum to catalyze the oxygen reduction reaction in the cathode side. While platinum is the most efficient catalyst available today for the oxygen reduction reaction, its activity is limited, and it is rare and expensive.

The Cornell researchers' nanoparticles offer an alternative to pure platinum at a fraction of the cost. They are made of a palladium and cobalt core and coated with a one-atom-thick layer of platinum. Palladium, though not as good a catalyst, has similar properties as platinum (it is in the same group on the Periodic Table of Elements; it has the same crystal structure; and it is similar in atomic size), but it costs one-third less and is 50 times more abundant on Earth.

Researchers led by Héctor D. Abruña, the E.M. Chamot Profesor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, made the nanoparticles on a carbon substrate and made the palladium-cobalt core self-assemble -- cutting down on manufacturing costs. First author Deli Wang, a postdoctoral associate in Abruña's lab, designed the experiments and synthesized the nanoparticles.

David Muller, professor of applied and engineering physics and co-director of the Kavli Institute at Cornell for Nanoscale Science, led the efforts geared at imaging the particles down to atomic resolution to demonstrate their chemical composition and distribution, and to prove the efficacy of the catalytic conversions.

"The crystal structure of the substrate, composition and spatial distribution of the nanoparticles play important roles in determining how well the platinum performs," said Huolin Xin, a graduate student in Muller's lab.

The work was supported by the Energy Materials Center at Cornell, a Department of Energy-supported Energy Frontiers Research Center. Researchers also used equipment at the Cornell Center for Materials Research.

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December 13, 2010
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London's Hydrogen Fuel Cell Bus Fleet Takes to the Road

New London bus
The first of London’s planned fleet of hydrogen fuel cell buses will take to the road this Saturday.

The fleet of eight buses, designed specifically for Transport for London (TfL) by ISE, Wrightbus and Ballard, is the only one its kind in the UK and the largest currently in operation in Europe.

The further seven vehicles will be phased into operation next year to create the country’s first zero-emission bus route – the RV1.

The buses will operate out of First’s Lea Interchange bus depot at Stratford in east London, which will be homes to a permanent hydrogen refuelling station maintained by Air Products.

The hydrogen technology has already been trialled on the RV1 route for the last three years to demonstrate its feasibility and garner public support.

The new buses will join a fleet that already boasts 100 hybrid vehicles, which is set to increase to 300, and the ‘new bus for London’, which is 40% less polluting than traditional diesel vehicles.

The UK capital continues to suffer from high pollution levels and has had to resort to spraying a binding chemical onto the surface of some of the worst offending routes in a bid to mitigate the effects.

“[The new buses] will run through the most polluted part of the city, through two air pollution hotspots, helping to improve London’s air quality,” said London Mayor Boris Johnson.

Kit Malthouse, Deputy Mayor for policing and chair of the London Hydrogen Partnership, adds:
“The arrival of a flagship fleet of hydrogen powered buses places London at the forefront of this revolutionary fuel cell technology.”

The buses are being funded by TfL, the Department of Energy and Climate Change and the EU’s Clean Hydrogen in Cities project.

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December 13, 2010
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Dredging Today -- IHC Merwede and Bredenoord Run a Sustainable Dredging Test

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IHC Merwede is delighted to announce that alternative fuels have been used in the dredging process for the first time. The company ran a pilot test in which energy derived from hydrogen was the sole source used to power the electrical equipment on board a dredger.

The sustainable energy test took place at the Haringvliet estuary in The Netherlands with one of the latest generation of standard cutter suction dredgers: the IHC Beaver® 40. The hydrogen energy was supplied by the Purity fuel cell generator that has been developed by Bredenoord.

Connecting a fuel cell to a dredger had not been tested previously and it needed to operate under the difficult conditions that are typical of the dredging process – vibrations, dust, water, frost and wave motion. The fuel cell successfully powered the dredger for approximately 120 hours. IHC Merwede Manager of Projects & Development Marcel Boor says, “The pilot test demonstrates that alternative energy sources can be applied to power dredgers.”

Emission free
The electrical equipment on the current line-up of ships is powered by diesel generators, which results in the emission of harmful substances. The use of fuel cells is emission free, as the hydrogen is converted into heat, electricity and clean water.

One of IHC Merwede’s main aims is to construct sustainable vessels. The new IHC Beaver® 40 for example has been fitted with LED lighting and the use of high-grade materials means that these ships require less maintenance.

“Worldwide dredging projects need to meet increasingly stringent environmental demands,” says Dingeman van Woerden, Head of Product Development at IHC Merwede. “Our customers ask us to come up with solutions on a wide range of dredging tasks and this successful test is another step closer to sustainable dredging.”

Paul Schurink, Bredenoord’s Business Development Manager, shares IHC Merwede’s enthusiasm for the project, “It was important to find out how the Purity would perform on a surface that was moving and vibrating.

“The fact that the fuel cell aggregate held up well under these circumstances means this hydrogen solution is suitable for a broad range of applications. The positive outcome of the test shows that the mobile hydrogen technique – developed by Bredenoord – can also be used in the offshore sector. In this way, the innovative aggregate contributes to the necessary transition to more sustainable sources of energy.”

Company profile IHC Merwede
IHC Merwede is focussed on the continuous development of design and construction activities for the specialist maritime sector. It is the global market leader for efficient dredging and mining vessels and equipment – with vast experience accumulated over decades – and a reliable supplier of custom-built ships and supplies for offshore construction.

IHC Merwede has in-house expertise for engineering and manufacturing innovative vessels and advanced equipment, as well as providing life-cycle support. Its integrated systematic approach has helped to develop optimum product performance and long-term business partnerships. The company’s broad customer base includes dredging operators, oil and gas corporations, offshore contractors and government authorities.

IHC Merwede has over 3,000 employees based at various locations in The Netherlands, China, Croatia, France, India, the Middle East, Nigeria, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Technological innovation will remain the company’s underlying strength through its continuous investment in research and development. Moreover, it helps to safeguard a sustainable environment.

Company profile Bredenoord
Bredenoord is a family company that has been involved in the rental, sales and production of mobile energy in The Netherlands and beyond for over 70 years. Bredenoord serves a wide range of markets, including the offshore industry, through rental and sales of generators and emergency generators. In addition, Bredenoord develops sustainable solutions such as particle filters and biogas CPH units, which allow clients to choose mobile energy from a range of fuels and with different emission levels. This spring Bredenoord was awarded the prestigious European Rental Award.

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December 17, 2010
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Researchers Develop Organometallic Fuel Cell

December 17, 2010


Together with Italian researchers, Swiss ETH Zurich Professor Hansjorg Grutzmacher and his group have developed a novel organometallic fuel cell. In addition to generating electrical energy, it also produces fine chemicals from renewable raw materials – with no waste. Photo: Swiss ETH Zurich
Together with Italian researchers, Swiss ETH Zurich Professor Hansjorg Grutzmacher and his group have developed a novel organometallic fuel cell. In addition to generating electrical energy, it also produces fine chemicals from renewable raw materials – with no waste. Photo: Swiss ETH Zurich


Together with Italian researchers, Swiss ETH Zurich Professor Hansjorg Grutzmacher and his group have developed a novel organometallic fuel cell. In addition to generating electrical energy, it also produces fine chemicals from renewable raw materials – with no waste.

It is a rectangular device made of transparent plastic, a little bigger than a fist. There is a rectangular recess on the front and two connections protrude from the top, one gold-colored, the other silver. Two oversized-looking clamps hold together the two halves that make up the device.

”This fuel cell won’t solve the world’s energy problems,” says Grutzmacher. “But I think the fact that it can be used to make fine chemicals from renewable raw materials with no waste products is an enormous step forward.”

The new fuel cell’s achievement is really extraordinary. Firstly, it allows fine chemicals to be manufactured with no waste, while it also generates CO2-free electrical energy. The aim of an environmentally friendly chemical industry must be to produce chemicals, while creating less waste products or none at all, because according to Grützmacher, some of these may be rather toxic and their disposal is expensive and problematic.

The operating principle of the new organometallic fuel cell is entirely different from that of previous types. It is based on a special molecular complex containing the metal rhodium. This complex is molecularly embedded in the anode material. The anode of a fuel cell absorbs liberated charges and transfers them to the cathode, which releases them again. This process generates an electric current. The special feature of the organometallic fuel cell is that the molecular complex in the anode acts as a catalyst, and its function can easily be optimized. The anode’s support material is carbon powder, to which the molecular complex is applied as a fine dispersion.

The active catalyst forms and changes progressively while the chemical reaction is taking place in the fuel cell. As a result, various catalysts specific to the individual reaction steps are formed from the metal complex. Thus an alcohol, such as ethanol is converted into a corresponding aldehyde, and in the next step it is turned into the corresponding carboxylic acid, e.g. acetic acid. However, the use of this special catalyst enables not only alcohols, but also sugars such as glucose, to be transformed. The raw materials, i.e. the alcohols used, can be natural fermentation products or by-products from bio-diesel manufacture.

The chemists already knew that such reactions were possible. However, in these reactions Grützmacher and his colleagues needed to use a “sacrificial molecule,” which “absorbs” the hydrogen molecule formally created in the reaction. The inspirational idea to bypass this problem occurred to the ETH Zurich professor and his Italian colleague Claudio Bianchini while they were picking olives in Tuscany: an electrode, the anode, could be used instead of the sacrificial molecule to absorb the charges from the reaction and to convert them directly into electricity.

Grützmacher thinks the organometallic fuel cell has great potential. In an experimental context, for example, 1,2-propanediol, a dialcohol obtained from renewable raw materials, could be converted very selectively into lactic acid. Lactic acid is produced industrially on a large scale for use in the manufacture of biodegradable polymers. The only problem is that for every ton of lactic acid, most processes create approximately one ton of calcium sulphate, which requires expensive disposal. In contrast, the novel fuel cell leaves no residue when it converts the raw material.

However, Grützmacher also envisages other applications. The organometallic fuel cell could be miniaturized to power heart pacemakers. It could also contribute to reducing the metal demand of catalysts. Their construction often uses rare earths or noble metals such as platinum. The latter is not only expensive but also scarce.

“If we succeed in constructing a catalyst molecularly, that would considerably improve the material efficiency,” stresses Grützmacher. He says the aim is to develop a fuel cell whose electrodes manage without metals, or at least use only abundant metals. Candidates include manganese, iron or cobalt, for example. Up to now the researchers have used rhodium in the organometallic fuel cells. Although this metal is often used in present-day catalysts, its availability is limited.

However, the organometallic fuel cell also has its disadvantages.

The chemical reactions proceed more slowly than in solution because, due to a fuel cell’s construction, they only take place on surfaces. This is why the manufacture of larger quantities of fine chemicals will take longer than manufacturing in the conventional way. In addition, for the time being the system only functions with aqueous solutions.

“However, the use of non-aqueous solvents is also conceivable, but we are only at the very beginning, and in the near future we really must first of all understand how a change in the process parameters affects the overall efficiency,” says Grützmacher.

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December 17, 2010
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Harbor Commissioners Agree to Split Cost of Emission-Free Vehicles

By Art Marroquin Staff Writer

The Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners on Thursday agreed to split the $425,000 cost of testing two heavy-duty, emission-free vehicles manufactured by Vision Motor Corp. of El Segundo.

Beginning in early 2011, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach will spend 18 months testing a truck and an off-road tractor powered by hydrogen fuel cells and electricity. The demonstration is part of the Clean Air Action Plan enacted by the twin ports in November 2006 - which calls for examining technology that will significantly cut pollution.

In a separate move, the harbor commission agreed to temporarily relocate a peregrine falcon nesting habitat beneath the Shuyler Heim Bridge as state officials build a new span. The birds will be relocated to an existing falcon habitat at the port's Badger Avenue railroad bridge. The nest will be moved back to the new bridge once construction is completed.

In other action, the harbor commission also agreed to sell 18,140 square feet of vacant property in Wilmington to State Fish Co. for $355,000. The land, at 223 and 233 North King Ave., sits right next to the fishing company, which has served the Harbor Area since 1946.

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December 22, 2010
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$74 Million in Fuel Cell R&D Funding Offered by DoE

The U.S. Department of Energy is accepting applications for a total of up to $74 million to support the research and development of clean, reliable fuel cells for stationary and transportation applications. Hydrogen systems can serve as viable energy storage options.

The solicitations include up to $65 million over three years to fund continued research and development (R&D) on fuel cell components, such as catalysts and membrane electrode assemblies, with the goal of reducing costs, improving durability and increasing the efficiency of fuel cell systems.

The funding also includes up to $9 million to conduct independent cost analyses that will assess the progress of the technology under current research initiatives and help guide future fuel cell and hydrogen storage R&D efforts. These awards will help support U.S. leadership in the emerging global fuel cell market, while limiting greenhouse gas emissions and reducing the country’s reliance on fossil fuels.

“The investments we’re making today will help advance fuel cell technology in the United States,” said U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “This is part of a broad effort to create American jobs, reduce carbon pollution and help ensure the U.S. stays competitive in the growing clean energy economy.”

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Fuel cells use the chemical energy of hydrogen or other fuels to cleanly and efficiently produce electricity or heat with minimal byproducts, primarily water. They can produce power in large stationary systems such as buildings or for vehicles such as commercial forklifts, buses and automobiles.

The Department will be funding research and development initiatives related to fuel cell system balance-of-plant components, fuel processors, and fuel cell stack components such as catalysts and membranes, as well as innovative concepts for both low and high temperature systems to help meet commercial viability targets in terms of cost and performance. Applicants will likely include teams of university, industry and national laboratory participants.

The cost analysis funding opportunity will help to determine the economic viability and technical progress of fuel cell and hydrogen technologies for stationary, transportation, and emerging market applications, including light duty vehicles, forklifts, buses and stationary power plants, as well as hydrogen storage systems. Under the program, the grantees will be expected to conduct life cycle cost analyses for different manufacturing volumes to help gauge the near-term, low-volume market viability for these technologies, along with their long-term potential.

Applications for the $65 million research and development program are due by March 3, 2011. Applications for the cost analysis solicitation are due on February 18, 2011. Funding for both programs are subject to congressional appropriations.

The Fuel Cell Technologies Program has a comprehensive portfolio of activities that address the full range of barriers facing the development and deployment of hydrogen and fuel cells with the ultimate goals of decreasing our dependence on oil, reducing carbon emissions, and enabling clean, reliable power generation.

In a related story, The International Partnership for Hydrogen and Fuel Cells in the Economy (IPHE), with support from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Fuel Cell Technologies Program, recently released the 2010 Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Global Commercialization Development Update report. This document outlines the role hydrogen and fuel cells can play in a portfolio of technology options available to address the energy-related challenges faced by nations around the world. It offers examples of real-world hydrogen and fuel cell applications and the progress of the technologies, including government policies that increase technology development and commercialization.

The members of IPHE have been coordinating activities since 2003 to accelerate the adoption of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies into the global economy. Four priority focus areas of the IPHE are: 1) accelerating the market penetration and early adoption of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies and their supporting infrastructure; 2) policy and regulatory actions to support widespread deployment; 3) raising the profile with policy-makers and the public; and 4) monitoring hydrogen, fuel cell and complementary technology developments.

The report notes that several fuel-cell based energy storage projects are underway. As covered in an earlier post, a partnership in Canada between the Federal Government, BC Hydro, Powertech, and G.E. is converting excess off-peak electricity and storing as hydrogen via an electrolyser, resulting in an estimated decrease in Bella Coola, B.C.’s diesel consumption by 200,000 L/year and 600 tons of GHGs/year.

In Russia, a pilot project called “Ikebana” is using hydrogen for energy storage and aims to improve efficiency of power generation with a variety of power sources including renewable energy.

In Germany, there are several projects underway using hydrogen as an energy storage medium.

  • Germany’s Enertrag AG, one of the world’s largest wind power companies, is building Germany’s first hybrid power plant utilizing hydrogen produced from wind power as energy storage. The 6.7 MW plant will have a hydrogen storage capacity of 1,350 kg and will also produce hydrogen for transport applications.
  • The RH2-WKA project in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is developing a 300 bar hydrogen storage system in conjunction with its 180 MW wind park to help balance fluctuating wind energy.


In essence, fuel cells are electrochemical devices that combine fuel with oxygen from the ambient air to produce electricity and heat, as well as water.The non-combustion, electrochemical process is a direct form of fuel-to-energy conversion, and is much more efficient than conventional heat engine approaches. CO2 is reduced, due to the high efficiency of the fuel cell, and the absence of combustion avoids the production of NOx and particulate pollutants.

Fuel cells incorporate an anode and a cathode, with an electrolyte in between, similar to a battery.The material used for the electrolyte and the design of the supporting structure determine the type and performance of the fuel cell.

http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/assets/images/story/2010/12/22/1-1332-74-million-in-fuel-cell-r-d-funding-offered-by-doe.jpg
Figure 1, courtesy of Fuel Cell Energy illustrates the process for FuelCell Energy (FCE) Molten Carbonate Fuel Cells (MCFC).

Fuel and air reactions for the molten carbonate Direct FuelCell occur at the anode and cathode, which are porous nickel (Ni) catalysts.The cathode side receives oxygen from the surrounding air. As can be seen in Figure 1, hydrogen is created in the fuel cell stack through a reforming process, which produces hydrogen from the reforming reaction between the hydrocarbon fuel and water. The gas is then consumed electrochemically in a reaction with carbonate electrolyte ions that produces water and electrons.

The electrons flow through an external circuit to provide the power to the fuel cell load, and then return to be consumed in the cathode electrochemical reaction. The O2 supplied to the cathode, along with CO2 recycled from the anode side, reacts with the electrons to produce carbonate ions that pass through the electrolyte to support the anode reaction.The electron flow through the external circuit produces the desired power (DC current). An inverter is used to convert the DC output to AC.

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December 23, 2010
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Fuel Cell & Hydrogen Energy 2011 to be Largest Energy Conference in 22 Years

More information is pouring in, as Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Energy Association (FCHEA) takes full advantage after its visionary move to merge the National Hydrogen Association with the US Fuel Cell Council. Their combined strengths will now attempt to move this industry forward by meeting in Washington, DC from Feb 13 -16.

http://www.torquenews.com/sites/default/files/image-119/%5btitle-raw%5d/img-0692-gmhc-fuelcells.jpg?1293148244

This new conference, formerly known as the NHA Hydrogen Conference and Expo, will openly display a powerful alliance which will make the fuel cell part of the energy equation, and will help the propulsion systems of future vehicles, like the ones shown in the picture at the GM the Heritage Center in Sterling Heights, Michigan, come to fruition.

According to the fuelcellandhydrogenenergy.org website and email marketing, Fuel Cell & Hydrogen Energy 2011 has the mark of a powerful event. Phrases like, “absolutely First-Class Conference;” “the premier event for hydrogen fuel cell research in the nation;” permeate the website’s feedback from previous years.

The 2011 conference, though, is different mainly because of the merger. The goal is to take advantage of the momentum and history of both industries so as to elevate efforts to make fuel cell and hydrogen energy technologies an integral part of the clean energy portfolio.

A great team has been put together who have managed several previous successful NHA conferences. Starting with new FCHEA leadership like Mike Hicks, Fuel Cell Engineer, IdaTech LLC and FCHEA Co-Chair Mike McGowan, Head of Strategic Alliances, the Linde Group and FCHEA Co-Chair and staff, great support is also coming from Conference Chair Charlie Freese of General Motors, and Technology Transition Corporation and their partners.

Already, the team has put together the 2nd largest expo in the event’s history and there are still two months to go. Reports show they have attracted an unprecedented array of expert energy speakers from within and outside our industries.

Posters will be on display in the Expo Hall, where formal presentation times will be announced as they are finalized. The initial list is large and includes the following categories:

  • Analysis,
  • Codes & Standards,
  • Early Markets,
  • Fuel cell Applications,
  • Infrastructure,
  • Production,
  • Research & Development,
  • Transportation

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