Steve and I were talking over the weekend about how one can get off the grid and provide power without begging the electric company to run lines, etc.
With any energy project, the biggest problem is storage.. When the wind stops blowing, or when the sun stops shining, it is highly inconvenient for your refrigerator to stop working or for your computer to shut down. So, of course, we talked about batteries. Only problem is that battery technology is a pretty high level of tech, and you need to replace them every so often. So much for self sufficiency.
So, we started talking about fuel cells.
Back in 1999, Home Power Magazine described what a fuel cell is. Essentially, hydrogen is extracted from a fuel such a propane. The hydrogen is used in a chemical reaction that produces heat and electricity in a much more efficient way than a traditional generator.
But that still means that you’re on the grid AND using high tech-level fuels!
That’s where hydrogen extraction from water, also known as electrolysis, comes in. What if you could provide hydrogen to a fuel cell without having to extract it from a fossil fuel like kerosene or natural gas? Now THAT would be pretty slick.
Hydrolysis has typically been a pretty difficult and expensive process. But a neat article in Wired says that cheap hydrolysis may well be on the way. Now, THEN we could talk about a hydrolysis-fuel cell combo that could power any home, anytime.
Or, in the memorable words of Daniel Nocera, the MIT chemistry professor who made the discovery, “You’ve made your house into a fuel station. I’ve gotten rid of all the goddamn grids.”