SMALL SCALE FUEL CELL AND REFORMER SYSTEMS FOR REMOTE POWER

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New developments in fuel cell technologies offer the promise of clean, reliable affordable power, resulting in reduced environmental impacts and reduced dependence on foreign oil. These developments are of particular interest to the people of Alaska, where many residents live in remote villages, with no roads or electrical grids and a very high cost of energy, where small residential power systems could replace diesel generators. Fuel cells require hydrogen for efficient electrical production, however. Hydrogen purchased through conventional compressed gas suppliers is very expensive and not a viable option for use in remote villages, so hydrogen production is a critical ... continued below

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14 pages

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Witmer, Dennis December 1, 2003.

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Description

New developments in fuel cell technologies offer the promise of clean, reliable affordable power, resulting in reduced environmental impacts and reduced dependence on foreign oil. These developments are of particular interest to the people of Alaska, where many residents live in remote villages, with no roads or electrical grids and a very high cost of energy, where small residential power systems could replace diesel generators. Fuel cells require hydrogen for efficient electrical production, however. Hydrogen purchased through conventional compressed gas suppliers is very expensive and not a viable option for use in remote villages, so hydrogen production is a critical piece of making fuel cells work in these areas. While some have proposed generating hydrogen from renewable resources such as wind, this does not appear to be an economically viable alternative at this time. Hydrogen can also be produced from hydrocarbon feed stocks, in a process known as reforming. This program is interested in testing and evaluating currently available reformers using transportable fuels: methanol, propane, gasoline, and diesel fuels. Of these, diesel fuels are of most interest, since the existing energy infrastructure of rural Alaska is based primarily on diesel fuels, but this is also the most difficult fuel to reform, due to the propensity for coke formation, due to both the high vaporization temperature and to the high sulfur content in these fuels. There are several competing fuel cell technologies being developed in industry today. Prior work at UAF focused on the use of PEM fuel cells and diesel reformers, with significant barriers identified to their use for power in remote areas, including stack lifetime, system efficiency, and cost. Solid Oxide Fuel Cells have demonstrated better stack lifetime and efficiency in demonstrations elsewhere (though cost still remains an issue), and procuring a system for testing was pursued. The primary function of UAF in the fuel cell industry is in the role of third party independent testing. In order for tests to be conducted, hardware must be purchased and delivered. The fuel cell industry is still in a pre-commercial state, however. Commercial products are defined as having a fixed set of specifications, fixed price, fixed delivery date, and a warrantee. Negotiations with fuel cell companies over these issues are often complex, and the results of these discussions often reveal much about the state of development of the technology. This work includes some of the results of these procurement experiments. Fuel cells may one day replace heat engines as the source of electrical power in remote areas. However, the results of this program to date indicate that currently available hardware is not developed sufficiently for these environments, and that significant time and resources will need to be committed for this to occur.

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14 pages

Notes

OSTI as DE00828292

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  • Other Information: PBD: 1 Dec 2003

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  • Report No.: NONE
  • Grant Number: FC26-01NT41248
  • DOI: 10.2172/828292 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 828292
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc783124

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Office of Scientific & Technical Information Technical Reports

Reports, articles and other documents harvested from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) is the Department of Energy (DOE) office that collects, preserves, and disseminates DOE-sponsored research and development (R&D) results that are the outcomes of R&D projects or other funded activities at DOE labs and facilities nationwide and grantees at universities and other institutions.

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  • December 1, 2003

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Dec. 3, 2015, 9:30 a.m.

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  • Jan. 3, 2017, 5:08 p.m.

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Witmer, Dennis. SMALL SCALE FUEL CELL AND REFORMER SYSTEMS FOR REMOTE POWER, report, December 1, 2003; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc783124/: accessed April 19, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.