Observing the renewable energy transition from a European perspective

Archive for the category “fuel cell”

Toyota Brings a New Hydrogen Engine to the Market

Of all major car manufacturers, Toyota is the one that consistency stayed loyal to its belief that hydrogen could play a major role in future automobility. I believed that too, but recently so much progress has been achieved on both the battery and the electrolyzer front, that I now tend to believe that batteries and hydrogen will coexist, just like diesel and gasoline do today.

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Methanol Instead of Hydrogen?

German language video

The energy transition has no lack of alternatives to choose from. Methanol is such a (under-exposed) possibility, that is currently living in the shadow of pure hydrogen. Methanol, a fluid under ambient conditions, has as a great advantage that it is easy to maintain and store. Methanol can be burned in a fuel cell, comparable to hydrogen. Methanol, like hydrogen, can be produced in a “green” fashion, with electrolysis. A methanol fuel cell does have CO2-emissions, but these would be evened out by atmospheric CO2-absorption during green production.

In transportation, methanol offers a large range, think 800 km. Existing petrol stations could be easily retrofitted, and the necessity for hundreds of thousands of charging stations could be eliminated. “Charging times” are in the minutes range.

Important disadvantages do exist. Methanol is toxic, 10 ml suffice for a serious intoxication, 100 ml are deadly. Other problems exist in the realm of rapid deterioration of the catalyst, as well as less than stellar efficiencies.

But just like with batteries, a big potential for problem-solving exists due to further research & development. Who will win eventually can’t be decided yet.

[deepresource] – Our methanol posts
[] – Methanol statt Wasserstoff (2006)

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DIY Electrolyser/Fuelcell

Videos from amateurs, making their own electrolysers/fuelcell.

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Dutch Fuel Cell Manufacturer NedStack

Nedstack is a world leader in manufacturing and providing high-power PEM fuel cell solutions. With 20 years of fuel cell experience, Nedstack finally has established a name in the automotive market. The company have installed a more than 500 systems with inclusion of the world’s longest running PEM Power Plant. The world’s first Megawatt size PEM Power Plant and world’s largest PEM Power Plant. PemGen is Nedstack label of fuel cell power installations. The company is also known to be a PEM fuel cell market leader.

Input: salt and electricity.
Output: chlorine, caustic soda and hydrogen

[] – Company site
[] – Key articles
[] – Company brochure
[] – Top 13 Fuel Cell OEM Manufacturers In 2020 (#10)
[] – World’s first 2 MW PEM fuel cell by NedStack in China
[] – NedStack 2019 presentation

NedStack, Arnhem in the Netherlands

NedStack timeline

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New Catalyst Improves Chances Fuel Cell

Danish and Swiss researchers have developed a method to construct fuel cells with less platinum and lower its cost. The new catalyst consists of a weave of platinum and cobalt, that has a higher chemical activity per unit of platinum. As a side-effect, fuel cells can operate at higher temperatures. The amount of platinum per car can in principle be reduced from 30-50 gram down to 5 gram.

But it is too early to announce a breakthrough. The technology has yet to prove it can work in heavy duty practice, outside laboratory conditions.

[] – Neuer Katalysator soll Kosten von Brennstoffzellen senken
[] – Fuel cells for hydrogen vehicles are becoming longer lasting
[] – Self-supported Pt–CoO networks combining high specific activity with high surface area for oxygen reduction

Borohydride (NaBH4) Fuel Cells

When the term “borohydride” is dropped, we’ll sit on the edge of our chair. Reason, see our DeepResource links below. In our view, borohydride could be the most promising hydrogen game-changing storage method. Researchers in the US managed to construct a fuel cell based on borohydride with 2.4 times the power of a regular H2-fuel cell. The advantage of borohydride over pure hydrogen is that with the former there is no need for high pressures; instead you work with a “yogurt-like” fluid. With this new result, the size of the fuel cell can be reduced considerably.

[] – Reactant-Transport High-Power Direct Borohydride Fuel Cells
[] – New fuel cells with twice the operating voltage as hydrogen fuel cells

[deepresource] – H2Fuel – Hydrogen Powder NaBH4
[deepresource] – NaBH4 – The Vice-Admiral Has a Message for Dutch Parliament
[deepresource] – Production of NaBH4
[deepresource] – Regeneration of Spent NaBH4 From Renewable Electricity
[deepresource] – H2Fuel

Hannover Messe 2019 – Hydrogen & Fuel Cells

Below a number of video presentations from the Hannover Messe 2019, “Hydrogen & Fuel Cells”.

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Fuel Cells for a Fraction of the Cost of Platinum


Again we are confirmed in our intuition that fuel cells, not 400 kg batteries, are the way forward for electro-mobility. New research from the University of California, Riverside suggests that the expensive catalyst platinum can be avoided and replaced by an inexpensive polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell (PEMFC).

The catalyst developed at UCR is made of porous carbon nanofibers embedded with a compound made from a relatively abundant metal such as cobalt, which is more than 100 times less expensive than platinum. The research was led by David Kisailus, the Winston Chung Endowed Professor in Energy Innovation in UCR’s Marlan and Rosemary Bourns College of Engineering

[] – Making fuel cells for a fraction of the cost
[] – Making fuel cells for a fraction of the cost
[] – Electrocatalytic N‐Doped Graphitic Nanofiber – Metal/Metal Oxide Nanoparticle Composites
[] – Proton-exchange membrane fuel cell

PEM Fuel Cell – How it Works

Methanol Fuel Cell

Most people associate fuel cells with hydrogen. But there are several hydrocarbon fuels for fuel cells as well, including diesel, methanol and chemical hydrides.

[] – Fuel cell
[] – Direct methanol fuel cell
[deepresource] – The Methanol Economy With George Olah

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