ITM-Power Claims Polymer Membrane Breakthrough in Hydrogen Electrolysers

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Thread: ITM-Power Claims Polymer Membrane Breakthrough in Hydrogen Electrolysers

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    ITM-Power Claims Polymer Membrane Breakthrough in Hydrogen Electrolysers

    ITM-Power's new polymer cuts the cost of membrane polymer
    John Dodge, Editor-in-Chief -- Design News, July 14, 2008

    A British company is claiming a breakthrough in electrolyser and fuel cell technology that promises to knock down one of hydrogen’s cost barriers.

    ITM-Power Plc of Saffron Waldon has developed a new polymer eight years in the making that its CEO Jim Heathcote claims cuts the cost of a square meter of membrane polymer from $500 to $5. Electrolyser membranes separate hydrogen from oxygen and convert it into an energy-carrying gas. In a fuel cell, the membrane separates hydrogen protons from electrons, which produce electrical current.

    “The membrane is the most expensive component in an electrolyser,” says Heathcote. Now that ITM has built an electrolyser to demonstrate its membrane technology, it’s ready to license its patented membrane technology to electrolyser makers such as Proton Energy Systems or GE here or Norsk Hydro in Norway.

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    Re: ITM-Power Claims Polymer Membrane Breakthrough in Hydrogen Electrolysers

    Still doesn't solve hydrogen's biggest problem: lack of infrastructure. The true obstacle is the billions (and possibly trillions) of dollars that would have to be spent to build an infrastructure (manufacturing, transportation, new filling stations, different automotive designs, supplier setup, safety standards, etc). At the end of the day, the cost of the fuel cell is minor.

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    Re: ITM-Power Claims Polymer Membrane Breakthrough in Hydrogen Electrolysers

    ...And GM should be all over this...GET in there GM!!!

    Hmmm...Hydrogen Cars might be a reality sooner than we thought!

    Hopefully GM does look at this and consider using the membrane!

    and Hopefully we get a President that will support speading Hydrogen Stations all across the land!
    Last edited by ZHDesign57; 08-12-2008 at 10:40 AM.
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    Re: ITM-Power Claims Polymer Membrane Breakthrough in Hydrogen Electrolysers

    Quote Originally Posted by HotCarNut View Post
    Still doesn't solve hydrogen's biggest problem: lack of infrastructure. The true obstacle is the billions (and possibly trillions) of dollars that would have to be spent to build an infrastructure (manufacturing, transportation, new filling stations, different automotive designs, supplier setup, safety standards, etc). At the end of the day, the cost of the fuel cell is minor.
    One requires the other though. If this article stated that the infrastructure was fully in place then the problem would be that batteries were still too expensive. This battery breakthrough is VERY important to the evolution of hydrogen powered transportation.
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    Re: ITM-Power Claims Polymer Membrane Breakthrough in Hydrogen Electrolysers

    would it be easier for hydrogen gas to be piped like natural gas is?
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    Re: ITM-Power Claims Polymer Membrane Breakthrough in Hydrogen Electrolysers

    Quote Originally Posted by Clownzilla View Post
    One requires the other though. If this article stated that the infrastructure was fully in place then the problem would be that batteries were still too expensive. This battery breakthrough is VERY important to the evolution of hydrogen powered transportation.
    It's not a battery. The membrane is what MAKES the electricity, which you would then use to power a vehicle or store in a battery.
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    Re: ITM-Power Claims Polymer Membrane Breakthrough in Hydrogen Electrolysers

    Quote Originally Posted by Clownzilla View Post
    One requires the other though. If this article stated that the infrastructure was fully in place then the problem would be that batteries were still too expensive. This battery breakthrough is VERY important to the evolution of hydrogen powered transportation.
    The statement is rather false when it comes to hydrogen powered vehicles. The next gen hydrogen should be cheaper and easier to make than your typical ICE.

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    Re: ITM-Power Claims Polymer Membrane Breakthrough in Hydrogen Electrolysers

    Disclaimer: This is not my area of expertise, so I really am asking here!

    The article says "This membraine separates hydrogen from oxygen". So it seems to me like this vehicle would not be buying hydrogen. Hydrogen and oxygen.....would this be something where you put water in the tank and this membrane separates the hydrogen and oxygen allowing you to burn the hydrogen and off gas the oxygen???

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    Re: ITM-Power Claims Polymer Membrane Breakthrough in Hydrogen Electrolysers

    Quote Originally Posted by ZHDesign57 View Post
    ...And GM should be all over this...GET in there GM!!!

    Hmmm...Hydrogen Cars might be a reality sooner than we thought!

    Hopefully GM does look at this and consider using the membrane!

    and Hopefully we get a President that will support speading Hydrogen Stations all across the land!
    The basic problem continues to be that it takes more energy to make hydrogen than it would to simply charge a battery (per mile driven). The physics simply does not make sense. It is not that we can not make a hydrogen fuel cell work as a battery in a car - the question is why would we want to? Again - it is less efficient than a battery. The infrastructure to refuel does not exist and, by conservative estimates, is at least ten years and billions of dollars away (assuming we actually start). In stark comparison, the infrastructure to refuel plug-in electric vehicles is 100% deployed to virtually every home and business in America. The infrastructure to power the range extenders (gasoline, E85, etc.) in plug-in electric vehicles such as the Volt are also 100% deployed (may only be needed along freeways/highways in which case it is "over deployed").

    Plug-in electric vehicles, like the Volt, will make America energy independent. Hydrogen is a diversion from the solution. A great science project - but still a diversion that continues to keep us hooked on foreign oil.
    Last edited by edsuski; 08-12-2008 at 01:38 PM.

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    Re: ITM-Power Claims Polymer Membrane Breakthrough in Hydrogen Electrolysers

    it takes more oil and electricity to create hydrogen than you can get out of it. It is unfortunate, but unless there is a less energy intensive way of producing hydrogen, the oil and electricity to make it will be put into our vehicles.
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    Re: ITM-Power Claims Polymer Membrane Breakthrough in Hydrogen Electrolysers

    Quote Originally Posted by HotCarNut View Post
    Still doesn't solve hydrogen's biggest problem: lack of infrastructure. The true obstacle is the billions (and possibly trillions) of dollars that would have to be spent to build an infrastructure (manufacturing, transportation, new filling stations, different automotive designs, supplier setup, safety standards, etc). At the end of the day, the cost of the fuel cell is minor.

    You are correct but I don't think any company is realistically thinking of hydrogen as a primary fuel source for another 20 to 50 years. However this is just one more piece to that puzzle in that it will brings the costs of FC technology down. There are still many more pieces of that puzzle that are needed.

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    Re: ITM-Power Claims Polymer Membrane Breakthrough in Hydrogen Electrolysers

    Quote Originally Posted by edsuski View Post
    The basic problem continues to be that it takes more energy to make hydrogen than it would to simply charge a battery (per mile driven). The physics simply does not make sense. It is not that we can not make a hydrogen fuel sell work as a battery in a car - the question is why would we want to? Again - it is less efficient than a battery. The infrastructure to refuel does not exist and, by conservative estimates, is at least ten years and billions of dollars away (assuming we actually start). In stark comparison, the infrastructure to refuel plug-in electric vehicles is 100% deployed to virtually every home and business in America. The infrastructure to power the range extenders (gasoline, E85, etc.) in plug-in electric vehicles such as the Volt is also 100% deployed (may only be needed along freeways/highways in which case it is "over deployed").

    Plug-in electric vehicles, like the Volt, will make America energy independent. Hydrogen is a diversion from the solution. A great science project - but still a diversion that continues to keep us hooked on foreign oil.

    True enough, producing hydrogen is always going to require more energy input than you can possibly get back out of it. And while that sounds like it means hydrogen power is a waste of time, it's not. You've got to remember that hydrogen fuel can be made using ANY energy source. Many energy sources are completely useless in themselves as a source of portable automotive fuel. You just aren't likely to hook up a nuclear power plant, or a hydroelectric dam, or a geothermal source, etc, etc, to your car. But they are perfectly suited to produce the energy to produce hydrogen.

    As the oil (and other current energy sources) become scarcer and/ or more expensive, a fuel which can continue to be made from whatever energy source IS available could very well be the fuel of the future - I'm not saying it will, but we certainly can't write it off at this point.

    And the "efficiency" of a battery does not relate to hydrogen. Hydrogen is a fuel. A battery is a fuel tank. In itself, a battery makes for more efficient passage of the electricity than a fuel cell, but for use in an automotive application, using hydrogen is currently much more "efficient" than electricity stored in a battery due to a battery's low capacity versus it's weight.
    Last edited by CaptainDan; 08-12-2008 at 01:22 PM.
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    Re: ITM-Power Claims Polymer Membrane Breakthrough in Hydrogen Electrolysers

    Quote Originally Posted by Sgt Beavis View Post
    You are correct but I don't think any company is realistically thinking of hydrogen as a primary fuel source for another 20 to 50 years. However this is just one more piece to that puzzle in that it will brings the costs of FC technology down. There are still many more pieces of that puzzle that are needed.
    GM is looking for this to potentially be more mainstream in 2012-2015 in North America... but still not the primary fuel source. China on the other hand seems to be more proactive with hydrogen, the future seems will be in China.

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    Re: ITM-Power Claims Polymer Membrane Breakthrough in Hydrogen Electrolysers

    Quote Originally Posted by SRX7697 View Post
    it takes more oil and electricity to create hydrogen than you can get out of it. It is unfortunate, but unless there is a less energy intensive way of producing hydrogen, the oil and electricity to make it will be put into our vehicles.
    Some very efficient means are being used now to split water, including biological and solar methods whose sole energy input is sunlight, ending that old argument about conventional electrolysis being the only way.
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    Re: ITM-Power Claims Polymer Membrane Breakthrough in Hydrogen Electrolysers

    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainDan View Post
    True enough, producing hydrogen is always going to require more energy input than you can possibly get back out of it. And while that sounds like it means hydrogen power is a waste of time, it's not. You've got to remember that hydrogen fuel can be made using ANY energy source. Many energy sources are completely useless in themselves as a source of portable automotive fuel. You just aren't likely to hook up a nuclear power plant, or a hydroelectric dam, or a geothermal source, etc, etc, to your car. But they are perfectly suited to produce the energy to produce hydrogen.

    As the oil (and other current energy sources) become scarcer and/ or more expensive, a fuel which can continue to be made from whatever energy source IS available could very well be the fuel of the future - I'm not saying it will, but we certainly can't write it off at this point.
    But the whole point is that less energy - from whatever source you choose, can be used to charge a battery directly and you will get more range per W-hr using a battery than a fuel cell. Of course, you realize that batteries can be charged by any source including Coal, nuclear, hydro-electric, wind, solar etc. etc. Today, the storage capacity is somewhat limited to, in the case of the Tesla, 200+ miles or 40 miles in the Volt - after which time you will need to recharge the battery or simply utilize a range extender (i.e. the Volts ICE), but keep in mind that 78% of the people in America drive 40 miles or less each day (14,500 miles per year).

    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainDan View Post
    And the "efficiency" of a battery does not relate to hydrogen. Hydrogen is a fuel. A battery is a fuel tank. In itself, a battery makes for more efficient passage of the electricity than a fuel cell, but for use in an automotive application, using hydrogen is currently much more "efficient" than electricity stored in a battery due to a battery's low capacity versus it's weight.
    I think we have to be careful how we use the term "efficiency". A fuel cell is simply a battery that needs not only energy input, but essentially a change of electrolyte to work. Batteries take energy in and convert it into chemical energy for storage (they recharge their existing electrolyte). Fuel cells take energy to "energize" their electrolyte (make hydrogen) and that new electrolyte needs to be supplied to the fuel cell which then depletes both the energy and the electrolyte in operation - at about 50% efficiency. You can't simply plug in a fuel cell and recharge it. You have to "recharge" the electrolyte first and then add it to a fuel cell (in the form of hydrogen). It is then burned with oxygen and recombines to make water that is tossed out the tail pipe. Converting that same water back into hydrogen is far less efficient than simply charging a battery.

    As for storage - The energy per Lb of hydrogen vs., for example, a Li Ion battery system (including the fuel cell) may be higher as you require the system to be able to travel greater and greater distances - but keep in mind that 78% of the commuters travel less than 40 miles per day to and from work. This means the 78% of us could STOP buying oil from the Middle East and save about 80% on our automotive fuel bills at the same time. Of course, as batteries increase in capacity (energy density) and/or reduce the time needed to recharge - fuel cells will continue to make even less sense.

    Oh - and by the way - the infrastructure to refuel plug-in electric vehicles is 100% done with ZERO additional investment needed until after 85% of the passanger vehicles and light trucks are plug-in electric. Hydrogen infrastructure - 10+ years (minimum) and billions of dollars away. Hydrogen is simply a diversion to keep us dependent on oil....
    Last edited by edsuski; 08-12-2008 at 02:13 PM.

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