Hydrogen fuel cells as a technology have been in existence for some time. There are many types of fuel cells including Proton Exchange Membrane, methanol and solid oxide fuel cells. In 1839, the first fuel cell was conceived by Sir William Robert Grove in 1839.
Sir William was a Welsh judge, inventor and physicist. He discovered that when he mixed hydrogen and oxygen in the presence of an electrolyte, electricity and water was produced. The invention, which later became known as a fuel cell, didn’t produce enough electricity to be useful.
Since then researchers have worked to improve the fuel cell and make it a viable source of electricity. There are several fuel cell development companies that have commercial products available for automotive, combined heat and power and pure utility scale generation applications.
One of these companies is Bloom Energy based out of Sunnyvale, California.
Bloom Energy produces a product known as the he Bloom Energy Server (or the Bloom Box). The Bloom Box is a solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) power generator. The device takes a variety of input fuels, including liquid or gaseous hydrocarbons produced from biological sources, to produce electricity. The units can be located at or near the point where the electricity generated will be consumed.
Solid Oxide Fuel Cells At Work.
Here is a video that shows how the Bloom Box is powering a server farm for a company named Equinix.
It is not clear what kind of fuel, Equinix has choosen to use for the Bloom Box, but hopefully it is not only hydrogen produced as a bi-product of the fossil fuel industry.
So now that you have seen solid oxide fuel cells being used in a practical application, are you satisfied that this is aviable way forward that will move us off of fossil fuels? Or maybe now you have more questions than answers regarding fuel cell technology?
Leave us lots of comments.
About Gordon Smith Gordon's expertise in the area of industrial energy efficiency and alternative energy. He is an experienced electrical engineer with a Masters degree in Alternative Energy technology. He is the co-founder of several renewable energy media sites including Solar Thermal Magazine.