Re: Gadget:Electrolysis Unit

Ron Kean (
Mon, 12 Apr 1999 12:33:03 -0400

On Sun, 11 Apr 1999 20:05:31 EDT writes:

>Is it possible to build a small, inexpensive solar powered
>electrolysis unit
>that would take water (say...from his holding tank) split the water
>into H2
>and O....and store the H2 for use as a cooking gas in his stove, to
>run his
>refrigerator...and as fuel for his heater.

Yes, it is possible, but it is not very practical. H2 as fuel should in principle be no more difficult to handle than propane, if it comes from the factory already compressed in a tank. But nobody uses H2, so there are no H2 stoves, refrigerators, or heaters. A gas appliance expert could possibly modify existing propane appliances to burn H2. I think H2 would burn with an invisible flame. And unlike propane, H2 is lighter than air so would not tend to pool in low spots like propane might in the event of a leak.

But to store H2 made on site, one would need a compressor and storage tank, which costs money and poses safety problems. Another practical problem is the amount of energy available per day from solar power. If the entire roof of, say, 10 square meters were covered horizontally with 10% efficient solar electric panels, the KWH would average about 1 to 3 per day, assuming typical cloud cover, angle of incidence, and daylight hours for 40 degrees latitude. That is about 8 to 25 cents per day worth of electricity based on what land based residential consumers of electricity typically pay. That could be increased by angling the panels towards the sun or adding pop up vertical mirrors on the sides. It's cheaper to buy electricity or propane than it is to make energy oneself from solar panels, for most applications, when you consider the cost of the panels and the ancillary equipment.

>Could such a unit be built inexpensively enough such that it would
>make sense
>to purchase it as opposed to the propane which he currently uses...(a
>over a dollar a gallon....dual seven gallon tanks being good for not
>quiet a

It would definitely not be cost-effective to build just one. Mass produced, they could be much cheaper, but still not cheap enough that people would want buy them as opposed to just buying propane tanks.

> if THAT is possible...what about a Hydrogen fueled..fuel
>powered semi?
>Ft. Worth Texas

If H2 were a commercially available fuel, it would possibly be practical to run tractor trailer rigs from it, while noting the inconvenience of wrestling H2 tanks in and out of their cradles when refueling, and noting the danger of driving around with H2 tanks. Compressed gas tanks are banned from tunnels, for instance.

But for now, gasoline and diesel are cheaper fuels than H2 (per BTU), and are widely available and convenient to handle. If fossil fuels had never been commercialized, it is likely that cars and trucks, if we had them, would be running on ethanol, methane, or H2, made from renewable sources.

Ron Kean




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