Instructables

Hydrogen Production for Energy Independence

video Hydrogen Production for Energy Independence
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
http://www.instructables.com/id/A-simple-watering-system-for-a-chicken-brooder/

Large Tractor Coop (featured)
http://www.instructables.com/id/Large-Tractor-Coop/

Redirect water from a raingutter to a rain barrel
http://www.instructables.com/id/Redirect-water-from-a-raingutter-to-a-rain-barrel/

How to mount a solar panel
http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-mount-a-solar-panel/

Tandem Rain Barrels (featured)
http://www.instructables.com/id/Tandem-Rain-Barrels/

Lenz2 wind turbine (featured)
http://www.instructables.com/id/Lenz2-wind-turbine/

Cardboard Savonius turbine (featured)
http://www.instructables.com/id/Cardboard-Savonius-turbine/


My background

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.

My date of birth is March 1, 1941.
rhackenb (author) 5 months ago

It never got funded.

recently I was living in Gilbert, Az. The taxes bothered me so much because the person that studied and worked so hard to reach his goals and ambitions is working to pay taxes for the homeless drug-adict or alcoholic Americans who have nothing to do except sleeping and getting The food stamps. it is unfair!!! that's why I left the USA and returned back to my origin Third-world country Lebanon.
Now I'm an owner of a wood pellet and biomass factory which consume more than $160,000 consumables for electricity. in Lebanon the electricity isn't stable, it's On for 12 hours in a day and Off for the other 12 hours. In the Off hours, the people have to use either Ups or turn on their own generator or participate with the private city electric generator (with $1/kWh) to supply them with electricity.
So, if you have this project ready and tested, it is time to consider making millions of dollars without paying any single penny "Tax".. here in Lebanon, in the third world country, not in the country that socks your blood from taxes and That is full of secret societies which prohibit you from doing what must be done for a green world...
rhackenb (author)  yaboulhosn4 months ago

I agree that a system like I describe would be very useful but the one I envision would probably not be sufficient for your factory. There are companies that make a system like this on a much larger scale. One of these is Ballard Fuel Cell Systems (http://www.ballard.com/) but you will pay a hefty price for it. Right now you ought to consider the use of solar panels and batteries.

That's a pretty harsh judgement on the US. Most Americans I know are hard working and pay their taxes. We are also pretty efficient in letting businesses develop without much red tape. I question the security of your factory in Lebanon because of all the turmoil that has gone on there for at least the past 50 years. Lots of luck in your venture.

that's my email: yamen.aboulhosn@gmail.com
yaboulhosn5 months ago
hello, did you succeed doing this project, or still under experiments?
HarveyH442 years ago
How much energy is used, to compress the Hydrogen for storage and future use. Is there some safety shutoff for when the Hydrogen tanks are fully pressurized? What are you doing with the Oxygen, which is also produced? Why buy a fuel cell car, if the fuel costs the same as gasoline?

I do understand the efficiency and economy aren't really an issue, since water is free, as is sunlight and wind, just sort of bothers me. The idea of a pressurized tank is a little scare, not to mention highly reactive and volatile gas, the Oxygen.
rhackenb (author)  HarveyH442 years ago
You have a lot of good questions.

How much energy is used to pressurize the hydrogen? I don't have an answer to that but I'm sure the experts do. That will be part of my experiment. For my purposes, it only has to be enough to supply electricity to my barn and chicken coop. I will be monitoring this.

Of course there will be a safety shutoff on the pressure tank. I think the compressor portion of the unit will not work above a certain pressure.

I will throw away the oxygen which will dissipate into the air.

Hydrogen is very corrosive and must be stored in specially lined tanks.

I said that the dealer could charge the same as the cost of gasoline. This a marketing issue, not a technical one. You would have to give them an economic incentive to even do this. On the other hand, you and I could make our own and sell it for less at a profit.
HarveyH442 years ago
How much energy is used, to compress the Hydrogen for storage and future use. Is there some safety shutoff for when the Hydrogen tanks are fully pressurized? What are you doing with the Oxygen, which is also produced? Why buy a fuel cell car, if the fuel costs the same as gasoline?

I do understand the efficiency and economy aren't really an issue, since water is free, as is sunlight and wind, just sort of bothers me. The idea of a pressurized tank is a little scare, not to mention highly reactive and volatile gas, the Oxygen.