Several years ago I submitted an idea to NASA's Create the Future Contest. The idea I had addressed the issue that there was not a national infrastructure for providing refueling stations for the fuelcell cars that Honda's Clarity and GM's Equinox needed. Without such an infrastructure, people would not want to buy a car that could not be refueled while crossing the country. I suggested that Honda and GM put solar panels on the roof of each dealership and use the electricity produced to produce hydrogen. The compressed hydrogen could be stored in tanks and be used to refuel fuelcell cars from a self-service pumps. This would mean that any owner of such a car could count on going to any Honda or GM dealership and be able to refuel. After the dealer has recovered the capital costs of installation, essentially free hydrogen could be sold at comparable gasoline prices. Both the car owner and the dealer would benefit and so would the environment. An easy follow-on to this is that other would start producing hydrogen as well.
I don't have a fuelcell car but I do have a barn and chicken coop that is not connected to the grid. I uses a few solar panels and a deep cycle battery to at least provide some lighting using LED lights. To do more, I would have to buy additional batteries which are expensive and heavy. My idea for this project is to use the prize money to set up an end-to-end system where I would use solar and wind to produce electricity and use this electricity to produce hydrogen. The hydrogen would be compressed and stored in tanks. Then, when I need electricity, hydrogen would be passed through a fuelcell which would be tapped to power the barn and chicken coop.
Such systems already exist but on a very large scale. I want to scale such a system down to meet a much smaller purpose. I would use the prize money to buy commercial equipment and install the system on my farm. The benefit to me is obvious but the Instructables community would benefit by seeing what it takes to put together such a system. I would post on Instructables.com a complete description of the installation along with a description of what to buy and where to buy it. I would also present updates on lessons learned. Since I own this farm and have the freedom and room to experiment, I would offer this installation as a test bed for further modifications. I would welcome visitors to examine the system. One additional possibility is for me to push dynamic performance data to my website (http://www.datasink.com) so the public can observe the changes in power output.
I have posted a number of instructables on instructables.com , some of which have been marked as 'Featured':
A simple watering sytem for a chicken brooder
Large Tractor Coop (featured)
Redirect water from a raingutter to a rain barrel
How to mount a solar panel
Tandem Rain Barrels (featured)
I am currently retired after 13 years of university teaching and 20
years as a software engineer in Lockheed Martin's Advanced Technology
Labs. I now operate a 10 acre farm in Indiana where I raise garden
produce, chickens, goats, and have a vineyard. I have plenty of room
to experiment with green energy projects. Many of my projects on
instructables.com have been hosted on this farm.