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The Green Mile – Part II

View the website for Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V. (Royal Philips Electronics Inc), here. Their LUMILED product range is well documented. You may be interested to know that Philips is over 100 years old and this great capitalistic venture was started by the cousin of Karl Marx, Gerard Philips in Eindhoven, a leader in the EU industrial design field. One company that I always remember fondly will be Texas Instruments – they have been pioneers in many aspects of electronics, from the integrated circuit to the pocket calculator (figures), DLP Cinema® technology and of course cellular technology. Although originally founded for geophysical exploration of oil through the use of signal processing they acquired Commergy Technologies (Ireland) for energy-saving power supply innovation in 2008.  TI is been accredited for their work in green energy resources. When it comes to devices that store energy we seem to still have many more years to go before we can discover a cheap alternative to the alkaline, Ni-Cad, Lead-Acid and Li-Ion batteries in use today. The question that is often asked then is why a flat battery cannot be made fully charged by simply adding fresh electrolyte?  Unfortunately a charging current must be passed through the cells to make the cells ‘active’again. Try it and see! An old trick to keeping a battery in storage is to fully charge the battery and pour out the electrolyte into a storage container. Why do I mention this? 

Because a great solution to our energy problems would be simply to add electrolyte to a flat battery to harness it’s energy again. So is there an alternative? Yes there is! In comes our fuel cell, a device which like the electrochemical battery has an electrolyte, an anode and a cathode. Fuel cells are different from conventional electrochemical cell batteries in that they consume reactant, such as hydrogen which must be replenished. Wiki has, as per normal, a very interesting article on fuel cells and readers are advised to read this to make the subject matter clearer. And who are the leaders in hydrogen fuel cells or stacks?  Here I must admit I am a wee bit biased.  Motor manufacturers seem to be all falling over themselves to make the first economically viable vehicle for our roads but they are also at the mercy of the fuel dispensers (or the lack thereof). This is costly, very, very costly. Hydrogenics is a company that has 60 years experience in the use of commercial hydrogen systems so they definitely deserve a front row seat. My money currently lies with one of these two nations: India or China. There seems to be just too much promise shown in India – bright young academics, much to gain and lots of rivalry. I always bet on the underdog so would really like to see India been the front runner. The Chinese have a mighty economy behind them, have the technology and if they don’t have the expertise they soon will. They are at the mercy of oil suppliers and in a country with over a billion people they have everything to gain by manufacturing (or discovering) an alternative fuel source. At present a web search will reveal a lot of activity in China regarding fuel cells – one being the Beijing Fuyuan Fuel Cell Group.

Readers are encouraged to comment on this post. Give us your views as to where we are heading, what we can do about alternative fuel and make the earth a happier greener place.  

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