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  #11  
Old 01-29-2013
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Re: Fuel Cell

The more I think about these, the more they make a lot of sense for a serious passagemaker afterall. You would have longer legs with solar/wind, but in serious storms, you run the risk of losing either. What an incredible comfort knowing you can recharge without the panel or windmill that was just torn off the boat.

I assume the cost will come down over time. Methanol could be the next most prolific fuel, especially if they can do deep drilling efficiently. There is even a physicist that wrote a book about the core of the earth actually manufacturing the stuff, not decaying dinosaurs. Imagine how that would change the planet. An inexhaustible fuel supply and we only need to have technology that doesn't allow it to harm the atmosphere. The latter is absolutely possible, imo.
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Old 01-29-2013
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Re: Fuel Cell

Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
Acually, Ritchard, razor blade marketing has changed. They no longer give away razors, or flashlights. Discount coupons and special bundles, yes, but no more freebies. They've found out that you can SELL the product (like the fuel cells) and still have a captive market for the refills. The Black Art of Marketing. Companies that master it in any one of many ways, make good profits. I'm sure the purity of the fuel source DOES count for something. I just get an allergic response to proprietary special solutions and bundles.
I think that the classic razor marketing model (to which I was really referring) is alive and well and is now called ink jet printers.

Above I referred to a future time/product. I think that as these units proliferate and more manufacturers enter the space, the proprietary fuel issue will go away.
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Old 01-29-2013
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Re: Fuel Cell

Quote:
Originally Posted by Minnewaska View Post
The more I think about these, the more they make a lot of sense for a serious passagemaker afterall. You would have longer legs with solar/wind, but in serious storms, you run the risk of losing either. What an incredible comfort knowing you can recharge without the panel or windmill that was just torn off the boat.
<>

Another point that impresses me is the size and weight. The largest of the marine units is about half the size of a small microwave, and weights 17-ish lb. Who can't fit one of those (or even two, for redundancy) aboard?
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Old 01-29-2013
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Re: Fuel Cell

5000 pounds for a unit, plus 80 pounds a refill? - 1 liter for 1kwh as a rule of thumb comes out to a liter a day to generate what an average 30 foot boat.
That's a lot of bucks for a four day charge up (8 liters about 100 bucks)

And you have to order the fuel from them and wait for delivery?

I spec'd out my solar "farm" at 600w, mounts, controllers and all at 3500 bucks. That's 3 times the power and 1/2 the cost, and it will work input and fuel free for 20 years.

With the power out put they are talking you can get 2 125w flexible panels, lay them on your deck and be out 2k with suitable controllers. I just can't see it as a viable alternative. Not yet, not for normal folks.
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Old 01-29-2013
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Re: Fuel Cell

Inkjet printers: Well, they still don't GIVE those away. I used to get free razors and free flashlights, honest. Just had to buy the refills.

But with inkjet cartridges selling at something like $4000/gallon, you've got to admit it is a clever way to pick pockets. Last fall, HP "improved" their extended capacity black ink cartridges. 1/3 less ink in them now, "New and improved!" and less expensive than they were before. Of course that also defeats the purpose of selling extended capacity cartridges, which was mainly so you could print more pages between ink changes.
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Old 01-29-2013
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Re: Fuel Cell

Quite a while ago I looked into importing these for the US marine market. The biggest problem, other than expense (2200 model $6000.00 USD), is that even the EFOY 2200 only pumps out 7.5A of charge current or roughly 90W. Wind and solar can easily exceed this, and for a lot less than half the installed price.

The fuel cells also need to be purchased directly from EFOY, and are pretty pricey... Over the long haul at the cost of the unit, the fuel cells and how much current we use on boats it's a tough sell until they can get these up to 20-30A output +........

The fuel cost for these units is quite steep. $22.70 per gallon plus shipping! It runs about $5.00 per kilowatt-hour or roughly $5.00 for every 80 amp-hours of charging. A single 140W solar panel will produce 40 +/- Ah's /day for no additional cost. Oh and when I say PLUS SHIPPING I mean PLUS.

My closest EFOY dealer is in MA and when I priced it out last time for a customer who wanted the straight dope on them I found that shipping an M-10 fuel cell, which is 2.6 GAL, it cost nearly $100.00 to get from MA to ME due to the fact that it had to go FedEX and was classified as Haz Mat shipping. So 2.6 GAL / $159.00 = $61.15 PER GALLON !!!!!!!! That jumps the cost to well over $15.00 per 80Ah of charging.

I recently ordered two Kyocera 140W panels for a customer for less than $300.00 each and a controller for another $160.00.. That is $760.00 for more than double the power of an EFOY 2200. These panels will likely last more than 20 years even in the marine environment and never need fuel or the cost to ship the fuel to you.. Of course solar only works when the sun is up, but it is also silent. You can also add wind and can often have 24 hours of supply..
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Re: Fuel Cell

Ive been running large fuel cells for about 40+ years on my boats.
The current fuel cell installation has the storage capacity of ~4100 kWh using a fluid that has 140K Btu/gallon (41kwh).
Its very convenient, easily refillable throughout the entire world.

This fuel cell system is manual however as when the total battery bank voltage drops to ~70% of full charge I have to manually turn a switch ... unlike a special fuel cell that can be automatic 'on'.
The electro/chemical efficiency when comparing the newer fuel cells is about the same: 1BTU = 1BTU or 1kwh = 1kwh (ignoring slight differences in 'conversion' losses).
My present fuel cell system is a 100 gallon diesel fuel tank.

The current methanol fuel cells (~1.7Kwh, ~$6000 ea.) are slightly smaller in output than a total of 2 square meter solar panels (~$2000 retail), or approximately what comes out of a portable Honda 2000w generator (~$2000 retail).
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Re: Fuel Cell

Maine-
"it cost nearly $100.00 to get from MA to ME due to the fact that it had to go FedEX and was classified as Haz Mat shipping." Did you look into motor freight, instead of the usual brand name package services? Or Greyhound? They used to carry almost anything dirt cheap, as long as you could get it to one bus station and pick it up at another one.
Gotta be a way the local hardware store gets all their solvents trucked in, without paying $50/gallon in shipping.
(Aside from the larger economics.)
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Re: Fuel Cell

I bet this technology gets less expensive over time.
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Old 05-04-2013
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Re: Fuel Cell

I think fuel cells are going to be very important to us soon.

What the current cells seem to have against them is that the units are not easily serviced, require very pure fuel (from the manufacturer, no less), and the initial price is very expensive. All of these barriers are going to go away as the technology becomes more widely available and more manufacturers start making these things, and more people start using them.

I don't think it will be either/or, however, because I don't think fuel cells are going to replace anything on cruising boats, what I think is going to happen is that the fuel cell will fit into a niche between (a) wind and solar and (b) generators and shore power.

Today we use free power from wind/solar to charge our banks, but of course that only works when it is sunny or the wind is blowing. When it is dark for extended times without wind, cruisers all try to keep their systems going by conserving power and by using large battery banks, but those dark dull days become a problem after a while. I think that fuel cells are going to settle into this niche where they activate and burn (burn ? convert ? osmose ? what verb do fuel cell people use ?) fuel to make electricity when the battery bank voltage drops down enough for them to supplement solar/wind power, it'll be just like turning on the generator except it'll be much more fuel efficient with less danger (no carbon monoxide). I still believe that many of us will continue to use small generators for heavier loads and for power away from the boat, and we will still use alternators when the engine is running, and shore power at dock because it will cost less to charge than the fuel/maintenance of the fuel cell when they are available.

I look forward to the day that is probably fast approaching when fuel cells use widely available fuels such as more dilute methanol or ethanol, or diesel, and have parts that can be more easily serviced by end users instead of having to send the units back to the manufacturer to fix them.

Some day I think the day sailors and weekend cruisers will probably rely exclusively on fuel cells so that they don't have to clutter up their deck with solar panels, etc, at the expense of cruising range. The long distance cruisers will still have their solar and wind, supplemented by fuel cells, generators, and shore power, and the wind generators and solar panels will become yet another symbol of the long distance cruising lifestyle along with bicycles, fuel cans on deck, and the rest of the stuff that marina queen owners bitch and moan about when cruisers drop anchor near them, and yet another thing for us all to argue about on Sailnet.

For people who already have all the luxuries on their boats I think this is an interesting thing to try already, but cruisers who need to economize might want to wait for the early adopters to work all the kinks out of the systems, much as they did for water makers when they first appeared.
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Last edited by wind_magic; 05-04-2013 at 03:27 AM. Reason: Edit
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