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'[EE:] Fuel Cells - direct Methanol cells becoming '
2004\07\08@205022 by Russell McMahon

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Methanol fuel cells are starting to get useful.
A way to go yet though I think.
Certainly worth comparing with Hydrogen fuel cells.

$US3500. 25 watt continuous output. 1.5l Methanol / kWh.
2.2 kg.   Toolbox size (dimensions given on site are wrong)


http://www.fuelcellstore.com/cgi-bin/fuelweb/view=Item/cat=/product=644


I suspect that a decent Stirling engine design would give it a good run for
it's money.

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2004\07\08@211756 by Josh Koffman

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So...you're on the fuelcellstore.com newsletter too, eh Russell? :)

Any info about available Stirling Engines that can be purchased now?

Incidentally, the http://www.stirlingengine.com/ is a pretty cool site
with a really nice overview of Stirling engines in the FAQ section.

Josh
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On Fri, 9 Jul 2004 12:32:18 +1200, Russell McMahon
<.....apptechKILLspamspam@spam@paradise.net.nz> wrote:
{Quote hidden}

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2004\07\09@001808 by Russell McMahon

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> So...you're on the fuelcellstore.com newsletter too, eh Russell? :)

Aye. Isn't everyone :-)

> Any info about available Stirling Engines that can be purchased now?

Not at that small size unless you are military/aerospace and / or well
heeled.

But http://www.whispergen.com is a real NZ company making real co generation
Stirling Engine systems that are in use worldwide. Not cheap, but users say
they are cost effective overall compared with alternatives. And $ per watt
is far better than for those Methanol fuel cells. Just can't see myself
carrying one on my back :-) !!!


       RM

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2004\07\10@074242 by Howard Winter

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Russell,

On Fri, 9 Jul 2004 12:32:18 +1200, Russell McMahon
wrote:

> Methanol fuel cells are starting to get useful.
> A way to go yet though I think.
> Certainly worth comparing with Hydrogen fuel cells.
>
> $US3500. 25 watt continuous output. 1.5l Methanol /
kWh.

And at $30 for 2.5l of Methanol, I make that $18/kWh...
a *long* way to go before it becomes affordable, IMHO!

I'm all for alternative energy sources, but not when
they're a couple of orders of magnitude more expensive
than those in place...

Cheers,


Howard Winter
St.Albans, England

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2004\07\10@081639 by Jake Anderson
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$30 for 2.5L?
that must be a super market price or something?

Its something on the order of 30-50c a liter in bulk isnt it?

> {Original Message removed}

2004\07\10@084413 by Russell McMahon

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> $30 for 2.5L?
> that must be a super market price or something?

> Its something on the order of 30-50c a liter in bulk isnt it?

Yes.
Probably a super pure grade to stop poisoning of your super expensive cell.


       RM

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2004\07\10@084414 by Russell McMahon

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> > $US3500. 25 watt continuous output. 1.5l Methanol /
> kWh.
>
> And at $30 for 2.5l of Methanol, I make that $18/kWh...
> a *long* way to go before it becomes affordable, IMHO!
>
> I'm all for alternative energy sources, but not when
> they're a couple of orders of magnitude more expensive
> than those in place...

The Methanol doesn't have to cost that much of course. Quite why anyone
would pay their prices I don't know. While there may be a rigid purity spec
I suspect it's not THAT rigid. Such devices, so far, are targeted at fairly
niche applications. I have a "blue sky" niche application that would bear
that sort of cost if it ever actually happened - but so far the fuel cells
are largely big boys (and girls) toys. For my application I suspect that
what is effectively a Stirling engine will fill the need better. (I say
"effectively" as any device which uses external heating and operates on the
Carnot cycle is effectively a Stirling engine, even if it doesn't look
wholly like the normal idea of one.)

FWIW My spec is something like: Up to 100 watts continuous max electrical
output for 5 days. More peak power would be nice. Waste heat not a problem.
Combustion by-products if present not a problem. "Battery"/Engine whatever
mass as low as possible. Preferably under 5 kg. Fuel mass required as low as
possible.

100w x 24 hrs x 5 days = 12 kWh.
That's about the energy in 1kg of LPG !!!
If you can get 20% electrical efficiency out, that's 5 kg of "fuel".

If you can do the above you have a 10 kg unit.
Doing that with Lithium batteries at say 250 Wh/kg would weigh about
12,000/250 = 48 kg.
And the above system could be extended to double the time by adding another
5kg of fuel.

Is it doable with a Stirling?
Carnot efficiency at 300C hot side is about 50%.
At 600C it's 66% or so
To get 20% delivered you need to get about 1/3 of Carnot efficiency which is
"a bit of an ask" but arguably not undoable.

But with any luck the fuel cells will come storming past some time soon.
My battery file notes say XL space systems projected Peroxide-Aluminium fuel
cells to have a capacity of 280 Wh/lb or about 600 Wh/kg - which is still
far short of the Stirling target above.

Quoted energy densities for Zinc-Air batteries are around 200 Wh/kg.
Suggested energy densities for leading versions approach that for
Al-Peroxide but therefore fall far short of the total energy content of many
liquid fuels.

Good, possibly useful, Zinc-Air paper  (year 2000)
"The status of primary Zinc Air battery technology for application in
handheld electronic products."

       http://www.huret.com/archivesx/PBD-2000/AER-2000.pdf

Interesting but probably not useful 1995 paper on Zinc - Air for LARGE
commercial uses with mechanical recharging and zinc regeneration.

       http://www.electric-fuel.com/evtech/papers/duisburg.pdf



       Russell McMahon

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