(Frequently Asked Questions)
Q. Can the ERD fuel cell technology be used to make the equivalent of the standard car battery with enough energy to start and power a car?
Yes, but we would not have the power capacity equivalent
to a conventional battery, and, at this time, the cost
would be prohibitive. However, as the technology is
refined and developed, and fuel cell production is
optimized, replacing the battery will make economic
Q. Can your fuel cell be made to work with gasoline?
A. Gasoline is made of complex hydrocarbons, so we are not planning on using gasoline as a fuel source. The more conventional approachas used by Chrysler researchersis to crack the gasoline to hydrogen and then run it through the fuel cell. We could run on this hydrogen. However, we would prefer to run on the windshield wiper fluid which is methanol and water.
Q. Can your fuel cell technology be applied to very large applications, such as replacement of the internal combustion engine?
A. Energy Related Devices and Manhattan Scientifics intends to focus on small applications at this time. The automobile engine replacement is our last target because the replacement power plant must be manufactured at less then $0.01/watt of power to be cost competitive. Our current target market of portable electronics is competitive if we can produce power devices at $100/watt.
Q. Can your fuel cell be run from natural gas?
A. Natural gas is one of the hardest fuels to electro-catalytically run on. We have not tried it. However, we expect that for larger systems a fuel reformer would be used and our fuel cell could be a component of that system.
Q. Besides lasting longer and being refueled instead of recharged, how will your fuel cell be different from conventional batteries and can they be used in all applications conventional batteries are used in now?
A. The major difference between a micro fuel cell and a convention battery portable electronics applications is that fuel cells have to breathe. That is, there must be a small amount of air available for the electrochemical process to work. Think of it in the same terms as a small animal. Just as a tiny kitten would survive comfortably in your jacket pocket, a micro fuel cell powered cellular phone would operate just fine. Shut the kitten and tightly closed briefcase You get the idea. Because of this breathing requirement, micro fuel cells would not be practical replacements for watch batteries or other batteries which must operate in a tightly closed environment.
Q. If your fuel cell breathes does that mean that there is some sort of exhaust? And if so, would there be noticeable condensation?
A. Yes, the micro fuel cell does exhaust minute amounts of carbon dioxide and water vapor. Going back to the analogy of a kitten in your pocket, just as there would be no significant condensation from the kittens breath, there would be no noticeable condensation from electrochemical process at work to power the fuel cell. Other exhaust from the kitten, however, would be more problematic.
Q. If your micro fuel cell uses methanol as a fuel, wouldnt it be considered a combustion hazard?
A. The fuel source for the micro fuel cell is a combination of methanol and water and is no more combustible than vodka. In fact, at one time we toyed with the idea of making it refillable from a vodka miniature.
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Related Devices, Inc. 10275 State Hwy 104 Tucumcari, NM 88401-9315