Maiko

Hydrogen fuel cell generator

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Hey guys! 

We have been working 1,5 years on a hydrogen fuel cell electric generator, which would be perfect for maritime market. It is lightweight, quiet and since it works on hydrogen, emits nothing but water. Not to mention that there are no moving parts, therefore the generator is maintenance free! 
Maybe you'd be so helpful to share your thoughts on the product, would it satisfy your needs, do you see any problems with it, etc. Would you see it as part of your gear? 
Also, what alternatives are you currently using, heavy batteries, wind generators?

More information and pictures can be found on our partner's website: https://www.ropeye.com/fuel-cell-1/

Thanks 

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Ad, or no ad, this is pretty cool, but I wonder about the practical aspects.

Your website says hydrogen is "widely available" and invites you to google your nearest refill station. So, I did, and it came up with Truckee, California, 450 miles away. 

It may be clean, quiet, and efficient but, clearly, refills would be a huge pain.

BTW, the website has many spelling and grammar errors. Get a native English speaker to proof it.

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and consumption of g or Kg of Hydrogen per Kw hour ?? for "9 KG with hydrogen unit"... i guess it incudes a tank..

 

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SUYT's

BAFA

with that being said I like the concept.

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yep, hydrogen supply is a non-starter for me. Only place near me that supposedly has it as a 'consumer' option is at Logan Airport. I thought Mercedes Benz was working on a fuel cell that used methane or propane as the H2 source, which would make it commercially viable in more places around here anyway. looks pretty neat though.

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Everything is wonderful about hydrogen fuel cells except finding the fuel.

If the hydrogen fuel cell system included the capability to make hydrogen gas (refill the tank) using externally provided electricity (from solar or shore power for example), then you have something.

Applying electricity to water makes hydrogen. If the tank contains a block of aluminum, then a small voltage causes the aluminum to absorb the hydrogen (essentially putting it under tremendous pressure), and reversing that voltage causes the hydrogen to come back out of the aluminum. You can't make the tank of aluminum, as the structural properties of aluminum are annihilated when the hydrogen is absorbed. So the aluminum can act simply as a sponge, but cannot be the pressure vessel. (I am pretty sure this is correct, its been awhile since I investigated it.)

How do you get the hydrogen for testing? Welding supply shop?

The normal usage pattern for nearly all sailboats is to be immobile the enormously vast percentage of time at a dock in a marina. Therefore, there is plenty of time to refill the tank using shore power.

The normal usage pattern for nearly all long term cruisers is to be immobile the enormously vast percentage of time at a dock in a marina OR at anchor. Therefore, there is plenty of time to refill the tank using shore power or solar power (or maybe wind).

If the tank could power the unit for a couple of days, then the vast majority of yachts could use your fuel cell generator.

If the tank could hold 60 days of fuel, and could be filled via shore power in a marina or lots of solar at anchor in a week, then almost every yacht could use your fuel cell generator.

Exceptions to the above patterns are so few as to be ignored when doing any sort of sustainable business plan.

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On 3/5/2018 at 8:36 AM, slug zitski said:

Locally I can get Hydrogen gas at the welding supply shop. 

 

Well shit I never heard of Atomic Hydrogen Welding till I goggled hydrogen in welding.  My first thought was WTF hydrogen explodes!  Still dont understand how they use it as a sheild gas.

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46 minutes ago, Blitz said:

Well shit I never heard of Atomic Hydrogen Welding till I goggled hydrogen in welding.  My first thought was WTF hydrogen explodes!  Still dont understand how they use it as a sheild gas.

make absolutely sure there's no oxygen?

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To the OP why chose hydrogen instead of  methanol?  Seems the fuel availabity is a problem.  Not thats its a bad idea but right now getting fuel is a problem.  

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At the stated 9kg weight how many Ahrs of  power does it provide. This seems like something that could make sense for race boats as a weight reduction measure. If it could get rid of a genset and batteries that would be a huge weight savings. 

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On 4/11/2018 at 7:03 AM, Blitz said:

To the OP why chose hydrogen instead of  methanol?  Seems the fuel availabity is a problem.  Not thats its a bad idea but right now getting fuel is a problem.  

Methanol is extremely toxic and emits CO2, hydrogen is the lightest element in the periodic table and in case of a leak, in an open area there will be very little if any danger as the hydrogen diffuses into the atmosphere rapidly. You're right, many regions do not have open access to hydrogen, but that is changing as hydrogen is making way to our everyday lives - cars, buses, trains, heavy duty trucks and even homes will be heated by hydrogen in the UK maybe. 

 

On 4/12/2018 at 9:11 PM, Mizzmo said:

At the stated 9kg weight how many Ahrs of  power does it provide. This seems like something that could make sense for race boats as a weight reduction measure. If it could get rid of a genset and batteries that would be a huge weight savings. 

Max charging power per day is 800 Ah. It is designed to replace any additional batteries on-board. 

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How many days will it provide power at 800 Ah/day with a 9kg quoted weight?

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Like the concept but the big stumbling block is that a 10 liter tank of H2 produces roughly 800AH of power.  For any kind of offshore work that ends up being a lot of tanks to carry.  While methanol has it's downsides, the energy density is much higher than compressed H2

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Unless H2 is readily available nearby wherever the boat happens to be when it needs fuel, I don't see this technology going anywhere in marine applications.

There was talk above about another system on the boat capable of making and storing H2 gas. But wouldn't that require a charger and batteries to power that system? Isn't it simpler, cheaper and more efficient to just grab that electricity off the batteries to provide 12VDC to the boat?

Good luck to you Maiko!

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Apparently the most efficient way to transport hydrogen (in terms of energy density) is as ammonia.  No compression required.  Lots of work being done to real time extract hydrogen from ammonia, so maybe done the track, this is the way to go.  Now however it seems to be too many tanks and to hard to refill.  Kudos for the concept.

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Interestingly, the company I work for abandoned H2 Fuel Cells for H2 Internal Combustion Gen Sets for our off grid power modules. I was surprised and pleased today to get an email from a potential client interested in a 'catamaran' application. Would never have expected an unsolicited inquiry for a boating application. 

If you have clean water and a power source like solar, you can create H2 with an electrolyzer. Some can create the H2 under pressure so that a separate compressor device is not needed. Storage of energy at pressure is very effective from a weight perspective. 

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8 hours ago, Student_Driver said:

Interestingly, the company I work for abandoned H2 Fuel Cells for H2 Internal Combustion Gen Sets for our off grid power modules. I was surprised and pleased today to get an email from a potential client interested in a 'catamaran' application. Would never have expected an unsolicited inquiry for a boating application. 

If you have clean water and a power source like solar, you can create H2 with an electrolyzer. Some can create the H2 under pressure so that a separate compressor device is not needed. Storage of energy at pressure is very effective from a weight perspective. 

But to get a decent energy density the H2 has to be stored at high pressure (>3000psi) or cryogenically, neither of which is great for a boat.  I looked into this in some depth maybe 15 years ago, and it's hard for me to imagine that with the improvements in battery storage you wouldn't be better off just going with a big battery bank and electric propulsion if that's the path you're on.  The round trip efficiency for electrolyzing water (50%) times internal combustion (10-30%) is really going to hurt versus battery RTE (80+%) and electric propulsion (maybe 80-90%).  So you'll need a *lot* more solar, which most boats don't have.  Only way I could see that making sense is if you had a fuel-switching engine that could run on diesel or H2; you could fill up on diesel prior to a long passage, then survive for a long time (perpetually?) on solar+H2 if you are on the hook or daysailing/gunkholing.  

Neither will hold a candle to diesel if you need to motor a lot. And the H2 solution involves a *lot* of pretty sensitive hardware so I'd be skeptical of real-world durability.   

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Socalrider. Agreed 200% H2 is not going to work. Right now, nothing beats the efficiency of diesel plus solar/wind and batteries on a boat.

 

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On 4/25/2018 at 11:12 PM, ColinG said:

Apparently the most efficient way to transport hydrogen (in terms of energy density) is as ammonia.  No compression required.  Lots of work being done to real time extract hydrogen from ammonia, so maybe done the track, this is the way to go.  Now however it seems to be too many tanks and to hard to refill.  Kudos for the concept.

and why exactly is it that we don't see ammonia refrigeration any more?

 

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Ammonia is poisonous and incompatible with copper tubing. Before the atmospheric problems associated with CFCs were discovered, they were preferred for these reasons even though they aren't as efficient. That pendulum is starting to swing back.

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Personally I'm a big fan of this technology.

It's currently being used in a couple of cars - Toyota Mirai, Honda Clarity, I think a couple of Hyundais. Availability of fuel is decent and getting better in southern California & the Bay Area. I'm seriously considering getting a Clarity.

Not sure the concept would work well for boats unless H2 became widely available at fuel docks.

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400W continuous

that's a cool .5hp

 

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Fuel cells are being deployed in ships, trains, trucks, forklifts etc these days. Amazon for one is using fuel cell based forklifts. As for this particular generator, it is in beta testing now and it will be in the wild in June.

 

Yeah, .5 hp doesn't sound much, but if you're a competitive sailor, 400 W is more than needed. Racing yachts are happy with this, leisure boats will obviously need more power

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9 hours ago, TJSoCal said:

Personally I'm a big fan of this technology.

It's currently being used in a couple of cars - Toyota Mirai, Honda Clarity, I think a couple of Hyundais. Availability of fuel is decent and getting better in southern California & the Bay Area. I'm seriously considering getting a Clarity.

Not sure the concept would work well for boats unless H2 became widely available at fuel docks.

Clarity is very nice. I personally like Hyundai Nexo a lot - never driven though. Then again, retail price in California is almost double that of Clarity, starting from $60k. In France one dude just managed 778km (483 miles) in one tank with his Nexo.

 

I agree with your point, unless there's hydrogen supply, it won't work. But we are working on that and luckily there are big gas companies that are interested in selling hydrogen. It is a long process to develop the network, but first steps have been taken ;)

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This is the model of power generation I had imagined when I first decided to buy my electric boat, but it is too small. To run a boat like mine I need about 2000 w to support the battery and extend the range to a manageable level. I saw some references to the consumption of hydrogen fuel above but have been unsuccessful trying to get some real numbers/volumes. Does anyone have a handle on how much fuel this thing would use to provide 400w continually? I would multiply for my needs. 

Dan

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On 2/15/2020 at 3:45 AM, danstanford said:

This is the model of power generation I had imagined when I first decided to buy my electric boat, but it is too small. To run a boat like mine I need about 2000 w to support the battery and extend the range to a manageable level. I saw some references to the consumption of hydrogen fuel above but have been unsuccessful trying to get some real numbers/volumes. Does anyone have a handle on how much fuel this thing would use to provide 400w continually? I would multiply for my needs. 

Dan

As a possible point of reference the Honda Clarity is rated at about 360 miles (real life suggests more like 275 from what I've heard) on 5.4 kg of H2. Lives in a couple of high pressure tanks under the back seat and taking up some but not all of the trunk space.

The cell makes 103 kW and drives a 174 hp electric motor via a lithium ion battery. 

I'd imagine a similar setup would be practical for sailboat propulsion, assuming there were H2 filling stations available. 

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Anyone actually seen any of these fuel cells in the wild

Yes, many.   The EFOY units have been used by many in Hawaii races out west.

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Wow, this could make sense then. My sailboat is equipped with a 6KW motor and from all estimates can cruise at 5 knots continuously on about 2kw. Imagining that all this is not completely linear then I could guess at similar range to a diesel with a tank I could lift out? Thinking one of the tanks listed above for the Clarity should give me over 20 hours at 3 kw.

Still trying to figure out how big and heavy the tank I would need but we buy it at my company for a production process from our welding gas supplier with not problem so I am not worried about getting it...just if I can handle it on and off the boat. To be clear, this is just a range extender for me since virtually all the operation I do with the boat will be comfortably handled by the batteries assuming I charge them at the dock.

Dan

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5 minutes ago, danstanford said:

Wow, this could make sense then. My sailboat is equipped with a 6KW motor and from all estimates can cruise at 5 knots continuously on about 2kw. Imagining that all this is not completely linear then I could guess at similar range to a diesel with a tank I could lift out? Thinking one of the tanks listed above for the Clarity should give me over 20 hours at 3 kw.

Still trying to figure out how big and heavy the tank I would need but we buy it at my company for a production process from our welding gas supplier with not problem so I am not worried about getting it...just if I can handle it on and off the boat. To be clear, this is just a range extender for me since virtually all the operation I do with the boat will be comfortably handled by the batteries assuming I charge them at the dock.

Dan

Dan, do you know how pure the hydrogen is at your welding gas supplier? Fuel cells need at least 99,97% purity, but the most important things is that there’s no sulfur nor CO or the concentration is very low.

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8 hours ago, danstanford said:

Wow, this could make sense then. My sailboat is equipped with a 6KW motor and from all estimates can cruise at 5 knots continuously on about 2kw. Imagining that all this is not completely linear then I could guess at similar range to a diesel with a tank I could lift out? Thinking one of the tanks listed above for the Clarity should give me over 20 hours at 3 kw.

Still trying to figure out how big and heavy the tank I would need but we buy it at my company for a production process from our welding gas supplier with not problem so I am not worried about getting it...just if I can handle it on and off the boat. To be clear, this is just a range extender for me since virtually all the operation I do with the boat will be comfortably handled by the batteries assuming I charge them at the dock.

Dan

The car tanks also run at 5,000-10,000 psi to get that much gaseous H2 into a reasonable-sized tank. That's what the filling stations provide, I don't know if you could get that kind of pressure from a local welding supplier.

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On 4/7/2018 at 11:06 PM, muppp said:

and consumption of g or Kg of Hydrogen per Kw hour ?? for "9 KG with hydrogen unit"... i guess it incudes a tank..

 

There is a reforming type of fuel cell that runs on regular propane.

They're getting popular for small video shoots and events where they don't want the noise is a generator.

I'm not sure if they're affordable enough yet for cruising ... the video and film industry often operates on a different kind of price scale.

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The Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina has been running an onsite 1.5MW Direct FuelCell (DFC) power plant for years.  It runs on natural gas and the waste heat is dumped into the pools.  Not suitable for boats as the cells operate @ 1,200°F.

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On 2/26/2020 at 11:39 AM, axolotl said:

The Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina has been running an onsite 1.5MW Direct FuelCell (DFC) power plant for years.  It runs on natural gas and the waste heat is dumped into the pools.  Not suitable for boats as the cells operate @ 1,200°F.

That fuel cell has a reformer in it. The small commercial reforming fuel cells can be used in boats, except they're really expensive. The one I saw seems to reform a small amount of the propane at a time and it does a good job of dispersing and sinking the heat inside the unit. Somewhere inside the device it's as hot as you write, but the outside was cool enough overall not to burn your hand if you touched it.

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On 2/28/2020 at 6:09 AM, mikewof said:

That fuel cell has a reformer in it. The small commercial reforming fuel cells can be used in boats, except they're really expensive. The one I saw seems to reform a small amount of the propane at a time and it does a good job of dispersing and sinking the heat inside the unit. Somewhere inside the device it's as hot as you write, but the outside was cool enough overall not to burn your hand if you touched it.

 Due to the high temperatures at which MCFCs operate, these fuels (natural gas) are converted to hydrogen within the fuel cell itself by a process called internal reforming.

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46 minutes ago, axolotl said:

 Due to the high temperatures at which MCFCs operate, these fuels (natural gas) are converted to hydrogen within the fuel cell itself by a process called internal reforming.

Makes sense. So it's enough to break the hydrogen of the CH4 and it doesn't need a separate reformer?

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