Saturday, December 29, 2012

Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle

Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle is an alternative solution to the conventional fossil fuel cars. The FCEV uses fuel cells that chemically convert hydrogen into electricity. The following video shows cars that have been developed by car manufacturers from around the world. The narrator of the video says that the cost of fuel cell electric vehicles has come down by 80 percent. This development is expected by consumers who want to drive eco-friendly cars.

 The main challenge now is building the hydrogen infrastructure that will enable car users to drive their fuel cell electric vehicles where ever they go. Fuel cell has got a lot of potentials to be used as an eco friendly power generator if its hydrogen is produced from renewable energy resources such as solar energy, wind, or hydro-power. Hydrogen can be obtained from the electrolysis of water. Hydrogen has to be stored in liquid form. Electricity is needed to conduct the electrolysis. US car manufacturer General Motors launched its Chevrolet Equinox FCEV in 2008. The car uses hydrogen fuel cell that produces electricity to power its 94 kilowatt (126 horsepower) electric motor. Although most car manufacturers have made several prototypes of FCEVs, the commercial sale of fuel cell electric vehicles, according to their plans, will be realized in 2015. In order for the FCEV to be commericaly viable, its annual production should reach 100,000 units, said Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche in Speigel Magazine.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Israel's Achievement in Greening the Desert

Israel is a world leader in sustainable development. The Israelis harvest solar energy from their barren lands and create man-made reservoirs to provide water for their farmlands. They also build desalination plants along their coastal region to supply drinking water to the whole population. The Jewish people have even recycled almost all of their sewage water for reuse in agriculture. An Israeli company, Emefcy, develops Microbial Fuel Cell (MFC) system that generates electricity and produce hydrogen while at the same time treat sewage water from food, beverage, pharmaceutical and chemical industries. The company received investment from General Electrics and Conoco Philips for the development of this fuel cell technology that directly harvest electrical energy from sewage water. With the water which they have successfully reclaimed, they are able to water the trees and plants which they plant in the desert using drip irrigation technology. 
Israel's achievement should be seen as an inspiration to all of us to develop our countries and conserve our environment. Desert is not seen as an obstacles but as opportunities in creating better life. Israel develops solar power plants that collect solar energy to generate electricity.
Jewish National Fund is an organization that plays an important role in greening the promised land. JNF collects donations from Jewish communities around the globe and use the money on various projects in Israel including the construction of reservoirs and the planting of trees. In its official website, JNF said that its volunteers have planted more than 240 million trees making Israel as the only country in the world to enter the 21st century with more trees.
The afforestation of the Negev desert is an ambitious project that JNF is going to do in the coming years. JNF plans to build more reservoirs, open farmlands, and bring more settlements to make Israel's land bloom again.

Fuel Cell Power Generation

FuelCell Energy Inc. has successfully developed a number of products for electrical power generation. The company adopts Molten-Carbonate Fuell Cell (MCFC) technology that is less costly to be manufactured. The company has got a plant in Torrington, Connecticut that manufactures the "electrical generators." With 30 years of experience in this field, Fuel Cell Energy Inc. whose headquarters is in Danbury claims that it has installed 50 MCFC power plants world wide delivering more than 1 billion kWh of power to its customers. The power plants also produce heat that can be used to drive turbines that can also generate additional electricity that further improves the overall efficiency of fuel cell power generation technology. Another US company that also provides similar solution to power generation using fuel cell technology is Bloom Energy. It manufactures high capacity power plants called bloom energy servers or bloom box using Solid Oxide Fuel Cells.

Both of them claim that their products can generate electricity with efficiency higher than the ordinary power plants that use diesel engines or gas turbines with less CO2 emissions.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Solar Powered Pumping System from Providence

In my previous post I wrote about waste water treatment system in Oasis of the Seas cruise ship. Water is the essence of life. For I who live in tropical region, water is every where. But for people in the Middle East (Israel, Jordan, Arab Saudi, and etc.) or the Saharan desert of Africa, water is not abundant. I used to write about Israel achievements in reclaiming more than 75 percent of its sewage water which is reused in the irrigation of its farmlands. Israel is also a leader in afforestation and drip irrigation projects. And all these projects need water.
The following picture presents the solar water pumping system developed by Providence, an American company that provides solar powered water pumps, portable water purification systems that use photovoltaic panels. The underground water that is pumped to the surface and purified can be used to irrigate farmland, provide water for livestock and villagers. This is an efficient solution for long term investment.

Experts continue to improve the efficiency of solar cells by using mono-crystalline cells, solar tracker and combining solar power plant with wind turbine and hydro-electric schemes. A lot of things need to be done to bring the cost down.
Photovoltaic panels that were developed for generating electricity for satellites are now used on Earth on many different applications. Efforts to use solar energy on cars have been done for years but most of them are still in the experimental levels. Photovoltaic panels may still not commercially viable for direct installation in electric vehicles but stationary solar power plant can supply electricity to charging stations that electric cars can use to replace their batteries or charge their batteries.
This eco-friendly technology is being improved by a lot of research institutes and industries to generate electricity at higher efficiency and cheaper price.