Firewater Fuel

NOT an endorsement: merely posting this so people can read and draw their own conclusions.

http://www.fwfuel.com/

Debate, discuss, determine. :D

Comments

  • ggunnggunn Solar Expert Posts: 1,973 ✭✭✭
    Re: Firewater Fuel
    NOT an endorsement: merely posting this so people can read and draw their own conclusions.

    http://www.fwfuel.com/

    Debate, discuss, determine. :D
    The Laws of Thermodynamics have not been repealed.
  • solar_davesolar_dave Solar Expert Posts: 2,348 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Firewater Fuel

    Look up in the sky! Its a bird, no its a plane, its hocus pocus!

    No explanation of the technology?
  • NorthGuyNorthGuy Solar Expert Posts: 1,925 ✭✭
    Re: Firewater Fuel

    It would be nice to be able to save all that energy that is wasted in summer and so much needed in winter.
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 8,614 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Firewater Fuel

    Water to hydrogen conversion, and then into a fuel cell. and their point is ??? Send $$ ??
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

  • Lee DodgeLee Dodge Solar Expert Posts: 112 ✭✭
    Re: Firewater Fuel

    I do not think the comments on this topic are well thought out. A problem with solar energy is that it is intermittent and hard to store. Batteries offer a way to store solar electric energy, but the energy density is low and battery lifetime is limited. Electrolysis of water to produce hydrogen (and oxygen) is a well understood technology (e.g., http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S036031990500145X) with most of the scientific focus on developing catalysts to improve the efficiency. If that problem can be solved, then there are other many other problems associated with hydrogen (energy density, containment, safety, etc.), but hydrogen-oxygen fuel cells produce pollution-free and carbon-free energy. Combine solar PV, electrolysis to produce hydrogen and oxygen, and a fuel cell to make electricity and you have a nice system that uses solar to produce electrical power when you need it. Hydrogen can also be used as a transporation fuel. This is a suitable research topic.

    These folks at FireWaterFuel appear to be a bunch of researchers (http://www.fwfuel.com/rdteam.html) trying to hustle research dollars to explore catalysts for the electrolysis stage of the process, or to sell their expertise in a catalyst they have already developed. I do not see any violation of the laws of thermodynamics here, but rather a reasonable research topic. Admitedly, they do not provide much information, but that seems typical of catalyst research.
  • ggunnggunn Solar Expert Posts: 1,973 ✭✭✭
    Re: Firewater Fuel
    Lee Dodge wrote: »
    I do not see any violation of the laws of thermodynamics here, but rather a reasonable research topic. Admitedly, they do not provide much information, but that seems typical of catalyst research.
    Well, here's the thing. Bound hydrogen in water is at a lower energy state than elemental hydrogen because water is a combustion product of hydrogen. To get it from the lower state to the higher state requires the input of energy, and that amount of energy is more than the energy yield from burning the hydrogen (the best you can do is break even, and you can't break even). Catalysts can ameliorate the energy "hump" that is between the two stable energy states, but the difference between the two states is immutable.

    Any energy storage scheme involves losses, whether it be electrolysis of water, reduction of lead sulphate to lead and sulphuric acid, pumping water uphill, spinning up a flywheel, compressing air, melting salt... You can't get back more than you put in, or even all that you put in.
  • northernernortherner Solar Expert Posts: 492 ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Firewater Fuel

    My understanding is that use of hydrogen as a storage for energy is inherently not very efficient. There are many other methods that yield better efficiency and without some of the safety and transport issues that come with hydrogen. Hydrogen does have a couple of significant advantages. As mentioned previously, it is a clean and portable fuel, unlike most batteries, which have a fixed capacity of storage, and some are not so environmentally friendly. There are many other approaches being taken for energy storage, where the primary target is grid storage for solar and wind power plants. Portability of the fuel would not necessarily provide a big advantage in that application, and would be countered significantly by the poor efficiency of conversion.

    Flow batteries can provide the same storage ability at better efficiencies. The energy can also be stored as a portable "fuel" so to speak. Even this technology is still emerging and there are hurdles to overcome, so it should be interesting to see what emerges as the optimum short and long term storage systems.
  • Lee DodgeLee Dodge Solar Expert Posts: 112 ✭✭
    Re: Firewater Fuel
    ggunn wrote: »
    Well, here's the thing. Bound hydrogen in water is at a lower energy state than elemental hydrogen because water is a combustion product of hydrogen. To get it from the lower state to the higher state requires the input of energy, and that amount of energy is more than the energy yield from burning the hydrogen (the best you can do is break even, and you can't break even). Catalysts can ameliorate the energy "hump" that is between the two stable energy states, but the difference between the two states is immutable.

    Any energy storage scheme involves losses, whether it be electrolysis of water, reduction of lead sulphate to lead and sulphuric acid, pumping water uphill, spinning up a flywheel, compressing air, melting salt... You can't get back more than you put in, or even all that you put in.

    We both agree that the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics applies to energy storage, and therefore, that electrolysis of water to produce hydrogen and oxygen will have some losses. In spite of all energy storage schemes having losses, the storage schemes are still of interest, as indicated by the extensive discussion of batteries on this forum. What specific statement(s) do the FireWaterFuel folks make that violates the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics?
  • ChrisOlsonChrisOlson Banned Posts: 1,807 ✭✭
    Re: Firewater Fuel
    NOT an endorsement: merely posting this so people can read and draw their own conclusions.

    Roy McAllister (American Hydrogen Assn - look him up) has tried promoting this for years. He even provided direction and technical support for somebody that built an off-grid home in Arizona that was supposed to be hydrogen powered with the power to make the hydrogen supplied by solar panels, and a genset running on hydrogen made by the solar. Two years after the home was built and it became evident that it don't work they put in a battery bank and sold the home for $2 million with the solar panels providing power to charge the bank and run an inverter.

    The home was very elaborate and fancy with some outdoor "rooms" formed by plants - it had a "moat" around it that was supposed to supply natural cooling for the home in the summer, etc. It was near Scottsdale - if you google it you can probably find the early articles on the hoopla surrounding it. The truth in the end when it failed, of course, never made it to the media. They just quietly changed it to a regular off-grid home and sold the place.
    --
    Chris
  • Lee DodgeLee Dodge Solar Expert Posts: 112 ✭✭
    Re: Firewater Fuel
    northerner wrote: »
    My understanding is that use of hydrogen as a storage for energy is inherently not very efficient. ...snip...

    If we restrict the discussion to the electrolysis process to produce hydrogen and oxygen, which is what the FireWaterFuel folks are looking at, then it appears that the limitation is not so much poor thermodynamic efficiency per se, but rather, very low production rates at good efficiencies.

    Since the electrolysis process is not a heat engine process, it does not suffer the normal thermodynamic efficiency limitations of a heat engine, like, for example, a gasoline engine that might operate at a peak practical efficiency of 40%, but when throttling losses incurred at partial power are included, the average efficiency is below 20%. In contrast, efficiencies for electrolysis are about 85% if the electrolysis is conducted at an electrochemical potential of 1.743 Volts (http://www.qsinano.com/white_papers/Water%20Electrolysis%20April%2007.pdf). The problem is that the hydrogen and oxygen production rates are typically very low at that operating potential. Well, this is exactly where catalysts come into play to increase production rates. (See referenced link above for discussion of improvement with catalysts.)

    I am not suggesting that production of hydrogen from water by electrolysis looks attractive, and that the FireWaterFuel folks have a good idea. I do not know enough about the process to comment. I did develop a passing interest in hydrolysis (and pump water storage) when I had an off-grid solar PV system at a weekend "cabin," when the solar panels were mostly being wasted while the batteries sat fully charged while I was away. As a thought experiment, I considered that generating a little hydrogen from the excess solar PV, and then adding the hydrogen to the propane feeding my generator would allow use of the "free" hydrogen and reduce propane usage. Obviously the high flame speed of hydrogen means that caution must be used in operating a spark-ignition engine, but it is possible.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 30,058 admin
    Re: Firewater Fuel

    Here is some initial press that Chris' post had on the hydrogen fueled home:
    [URL="http://www.arizonaenergy.org/News_06/News Jan06/The Hydrogen House-- Fueling a Dream.htm"]
    The Hydrogen House: Fueling a Dream - ArizonaEnergy.org[/URL]
    Hydrogen Home in Scottsdale Arizona

    Could not find anything after ~2007--So nothing on what went right and wrong.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • NorthGuyNorthGuy Solar Expert Posts: 1,925 ✭✭
    Re: Firewater Fuel

    For the off-grid application, which has much more energy in summer, compared to winter, even 20% efficiency would be good. So, production is not a big problem. The problem is energy density - there's no good way to store all that hydrogen for winter.
  • ggunnggunn Solar Expert Posts: 1,973 ✭✭✭
    Re: Firewater Fuel
    Lee Dodge wrote: »
    We both agree that the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics applies to energy storage, and therefore, that electrolysis of water to produce hydrogen and oxygen will have some losses. In spite of all energy storage schemes having losses, the storage schemes are still of interest, as indicated by the extensive discussion of batteries on this forum. What specific statement(s) do the FireWaterFuel folks make that violates the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics?
    I did not say that it did.
  • northernernortherner Solar Expert Posts: 492 ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Firewater Fuel
    NorthGuy wrote: »
    For the off-grid application, which has much more energy in summer, compared to winter, even 20% efficiency would be good. So, production is not a big problem. The problem is energy density - there's no good way to store all that hydrogen for winter.

    Flow batteries solve that problem with better efficiency and storage.

    http://news.cnet.com/8301-11128_3-20069295-54/mit-flow-battery-breaks-mold-for-cheap-storage/

    http://www.primuspower.com/products/

    http://enervault.com/
  • ChrisOlsonChrisOlson Banned Posts: 1,807 ✭✭
    Re: Firewater Fuel
    BB. wrote: »
    Could not find anything after ~2007--So nothing on went right and wrong.

    I checked into it when I heard the place was for sale. We got friends in Scottsdale and they went to the realtor got the lowdown on it for us.

    This is a "virtual tour" of the place - for some reason the realtor left this up after the place sold. Doesn't really show the RE systems but it does show some of the solar panels and the general layout of the home. All the railings on the walkways and stuff are made of unpainted rebar and pipe, treated with linseed oil.

    http://tours.tourfactory.com/tours/tour.asp?t=728904
    --
    Chris
  • northernernortherner Solar Expert Posts: 492 ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Firewater Fuel

    Another option for storing energy, which applies more to northern climates is in the form of heat. It would be costly to put in a system, but check out this 52 home solar community in Okotoks, Alberta. Approximately, 90% of the communities space heating needs are met with solar power. There's an interesting animation and you can also see current conditions with the system. Great system, but costly to install! I'm sure you could install your own system to store heat produced in the summer, for use in winter, but payback from just an economic sense, likely won't be there.

    http://www.dlsc.ca/
  • Ralph DayRalph Day Solar Expert Posts: 903 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Firewater Fuel

    Except for the vines growing over the solar panels I like that house. It's a little big for me, but hey, no lawn to cut!

    Ral[ph
  • NorthGuyNorthGuy Solar Expert Posts: 1,925 ✭✭
    Re: Firewater Fuel
    northerner wrote: »
    Another option for storing energy, which applies more to northern climates is in the form of heat. It would be costly to put in a system, but check out this 52 home solar community in Okotoks, Alberta. Approximately, 90% of the communities space heating needs are met with solar power. There's an interesting animation and you can also see current conditions with the system. Great system, but costly to install! I'm sure you could install your own system to store heat produced in the summer, for use in winter, but payback from just an economic sense, likely won't be there.

    I thought about this. This is incredible expensive. Even to just dig that deep.

    There are good ways to turn electricity into heat, but not in the reverse order.
  • northernernortherner Solar Expert Posts: 492 ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Firewater Fuel
    NorthGuy wrote: »
    I thought about this. This is incredible expensive. Even to just dig that deep..

    Yes, it would be expensive, although would it be necessary to go down that deep? I thought about the possibility of using a very large insulated concrete tank, located below ground level. Like I mentioned, economic payback would likely not make it worthwhile.
    There are good ways to turn electricity into heat, but not in the reverse order.

    Yes, I agree, although in northern climates most of our energy usage goes to heating the home and hot water. In that application, there's no need to convert back to electric, and could also help to reduce your electric needs.
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