A start-up company, Acumentrics, won an award from the SBANE, Small Business Alliance of New England, for innovating a ceramic fuel cell technology. Their new technology solves a problem seen in most fuel cell manufacturers because of the design. They didn’t go with the common thin sheet design that has been known to crack and break under high temperatures. Instead, the scientists designed cyndrical tubes that handles high temperature swings as drastic as 20 to 800 degrees Celsius. Acumentrics says bye bye to thermal shock.
“We are thrilled to see our units run on carbon-neutral biogas,” said Gary Simon, CEO of Acumentrics. “And our ability to run directly off biogas makes our fuel cells extremely practical. While we can run on hydrogen, too, it is great to offer compatibility with logistical, affordable fuels. The renewable aspect is a huge bonus.”
The US Department of Energy determined that Acumentric’s fuel cells may be built inexpensively once they start to pump them out. They need to form ceramic powders into tubular cells with enclosed power systems controlled by computers.
Someone responded with this calculation:
Natural gas cost (per therm) approx = .83 $/therm
Stated efficiency (max) = 90% (CHP)
convert therms to kw-hr = 29.3 kw-hr
Electricity cost approx. = .06 $/kw-hr
Run 1 day for 5 kW generator:
= 5kw * 24hrs = 120 kW-hr used/day (assuming use of full load)
loss due to efficiency = 100% -90% = 10%
we need to supply = 120 * (100% + 10%) = 132 kW-hr
132 kW-hr / 29.3 kw-hr / therm = 4.5 therms * .83 $/therm = $3.75 per day.
using just electricity = 120 kW-hr * .06 $/kw-hr = $7.20 per day.
savings of: $7.20 – $3.75 = $3.45
Years to pay off fuel cell (min) = $175,000/($3.45*365 d/y) = 138 years
But, how much carbon is produced?
The US Department of Energy says with scale they will bring down the cost. The only thing we can do is wait for the demand to go up and eventually the price will come down. If PG&E were to use this technology we could see it scale quickly.