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Gasoline fuel cell (vs. gas generator)

  1. Dec 3, 2011 #1
    Fuel cells means chem engineering, right? (move to the right section if necessary) Anyway this sounds great, except that it still uses gasoline:

    http://www.technologyreview.com/energy/39203/
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 29, 2013 #2
    It's a start.

    Electric cars with a gas generator, really doesn't make sense since you "lug" around the generator when you're in electric mode and vice versa.

    An all electric doesn't make sense b/c range, and charge times.

    Other types of fuel cells, you encounter fuel distribution network problems.

    The one that makes the most sense (for now) is a gasoline converter/fuel cell. You would have the benefits of an existing gas distribution network (ie. no range anxiety), better public acceptance as the experience of filling up would be the same as "filling up at the gas station", and all the other benefits of a FC. Also, for all you conspiracy theorists out there, that claim that big oil has "killed" the competition, we would still be using gasoline, but significantly more efficiently. Eventually, we could "ween" off of gasoline as we build a new distribution infrastructure (and different fuel sources) (MR FUEL CELL aka Back to the Future).

    This is NOT the final solution, but one that makes sense for the times. To avoid FC "warm up" times, couple it to a small battery to move the vehicle (say 20km) while the fuel cell "warms" up. Once the FC warms up, it would act as a generator and continually "top up" the battery.
     
  4. Feb 25, 2013 #3
    How much less carbon emissions would this fuel cell produce?
     
  5. Feb 26, 2013 #4
    I'm not a "techy" guy, but my understanding is that Fuel cells do not generate emissions when it is "converting" the fuel source to electricity. However, there would be emissions created when manufacturing the units. This is just an idea that I would like to see people discuss. Personally, i only like it b/c a gasoline infrastructure is in place and would reduce "range anxiety" of electric vehicles. This is not the end-all of the problem, but just a nice way to reduce tailpipe emissions. One problem that I am aware of, these fuel cells operate at 400+ degrees...so it's hot.
     
  6. Feb 26, 2013 #5

    mheslep

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    Gold Member

    Any hydrocarbon used as fuel would have to reformed as part of the overall system, which would produce the same amount of carbon dioxide per unit of fuel consumed as a combustion process. However, the fuel cell would be far more efficient than the combustion engine, so that less fuel would be consumed per useful amount of motive power produced. For instance, the efficiency of a typical reciprocating combustion engine is around 20% over the typical driving cycle, and the efficiency of some solid oxide fuel cells has been reported up to 60%. So an improvement (decrease in CO2 emissions) by a multiple of 2 or 3 is possible.
     
  7. Feb 27, 2013 #6
    Thanks, so if FC's are (at least) twice as efficient, then we would consume 1/2 the gas. Hmmmmmmm. I like this idea more. Is there anybody working on this??? If the price were comparable, I'd be first in line to purchase a car with this technology
     
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