You Got to Be Kidding Me!

Solar and Fuel Cells

Posted in Uncategorized by Stacy McMahon on August 2, 2008

I’ve been annoying my wife for awhile now with my pie-in-the-sky plans to go “off the grid”. Actually I don’t care about going off the grid, but since the DC area is projected to start having California-style rolling brownouts in a few years, I think a backup plan would be helpful.

I can’t build a wind turbine in my yard (damn HOA) but I can cover large parts of my roof with solar cells. Difficulty: the sun shines for maybe half the day on average, but I need power all night too. My answer: divert power while the sun is up and use it to generate hydrogen. When there’s no sun, use the hydrogen in a fuel cell stack to generate electricity. Also use hydrogen to run other motorized equipment.

Turns out great minds think alike. The good folks at MIT have been developing a cheap catalyst that can be painted onto the electrode in the electrolyser, and greatly increases its efficiency. Very helpful with the low and variable output of solar cells. My off-grid dreams may come true afterall!

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