Need a Hydrogen Reactor for Your Robot?

Posted 14 Feb 2004 at 00:46 UTC by The Swirling Brain Share This

CNN says that Scientists have developed a new hydrogen reactor. A "Reactor" sounds like some extreme crazy nuclear device, but basically the contraption converts ethanol into cheap hydrogen for use in fuel cells. This little reactor stands about 2 foot tall (0.6 meters) and can output enough hydrogen to generate about 1 kilowatt, which is about enough to power a house or a car (or a robot). Scientists have been trying to figure out how to generate hydrogen efficiently so that producing the hydrogen uses less energy than using it and they may have just come up with a real breakthrough. Hydrogen (and the hydrogen economy) is the holy grail because it doesn't produce any pollution and potentially could reduce our reliance on oil. Perhaps a fuel cell or hydrogen reactor may actually be in your robot's future?

Pollution?, posted 14 Feb 2004 at 02:27 UTC by WhoPhlungPoo » (Journeyer)

The statement that fuel cells do not produce any pollution is not entirely true; fuel cells output water vapor (steam). I‛TM]m sure every one has seen at least one SI-FI movie where it rains all the time and there‛TM]s water all over the ground all of the time. Now imagine a place like LA where every one is driving fuel cell powered vehicles, all the homes and business powered by fuel cells. That would produce millions of tons of water vapor! We could end up with a year round humidity of 90% or more, and what about places like Florida where they already have a high annual humidity. You would have to trade in your gas mask for a canoe………………..

Fuel Cells can be dangerous polluters too, posted 15 Feb 2004 at 03:48 UTC by earlwb » (Master)

Some fuel cells use interesting chemicals like sodium borohydride, which yields "borax" soap like stuff as a solution byproduct. Some fuel cells use alcohol or methanol to get their hydrogen gas too. Phosphoric acid fuel cells sound pretty nasty for the environment. The old alkaline fuel cells tend to have a toxic leftover too. Molten carbonate fuel cells sound dangerous to me. Solid-oxide fuel cells look to use all sorts of chemicals that could be toxic. Or what about some of the plastics used like perfluorosulfonic acid polymer films. It is not just hydrogen in use in these fuel cells, all the other things that go into manufacturing them could be a lot more hazardous than the fuel cells operational byproducts. I remember when the EPA OK'd the unleaded fuel additives. How many people think about what is happening to their liver's when they go to fill up their gas tank and breathe in those nice gasoline fumes.

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