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Re: Fuel Cells

----- Original Message -----
From: Shapiro, Mark <mshapiro@EXCHANGE.FULLERTON.EDU>
To: <>
Sent: Saturday, June 02, 2001 5:35 PM
Subject: Re: Fuel Cells


The answer to that one is to use a renewable energy source such as solar
wind generated electricity to produce the hydrogen by electrolysis of
Initially, this might seem silly. Why not just use the solar or wind
produced electricity directly. However, hydrogen provides a way to store
the energy and use it as needed in certain applications such as motor
vehicles. Using a hydrogen fuel cell in an electric vehicle provides much
greater range than storage batteries.


-----Original Message-----
From: Jim Green
Sent: 6/2/2001 3:15 PM
Subject: Re: Fuel Cells

If you use pure hydrogen as the fuel, the cell should last pretty much
indefinitely. If you use natural gas or other hydrocarbon based fuel,
guess is that the electrodes will become contaminated eventually and
cell will stop working.

TX, Mark, but this gives rise to my question re renewability: I am
to stipulate that there is a infinite supply of O2 -- assuming that we
cutting down every tree in the galaxy -- but what is the renewable
of H2???

Jim Green

Hi Folks,

I have studied this problem rather thoroughly (but not during the last few
years). A chemical engineer at U of H, whose name I believe I could find
as readily as you could) built and did experiments on a device that produces
hydrogen from solar fairly readily by means of a garden-variety chemical
reaction run backwards. It may have been the water gas reaction, which
looks something like HOH + C --> CO + H2 . The problem, though, is that,
as far as I know, no one has done a valid energy (exergy?) analysis on
solar, accounting properly for the fossil-fuel subsidies that impact
directly and in the secondary, tertiary, etc. costs (in kWhrs not dollars),
for example, the gasoline consumed by the tax accountant who does the taxes
for the guy who serves the builder of solar cells his lunch. (I hope you
get the point.) Most solar researchers are still computing costs in dollars
or not at all as in the space-shuttle case where "cost" is no object. I
hope this gets some people thinking about this very serious problem.
Similar objections apply to nuclear-energy economics, I sincerely regret to

Regards / Tom

P.S. This type of thinking completely eludes the Green Party, for example,
which hung up the phone in my ear whilst I was explaining this spot of
bother. Hang-the-messenger still applies.