February 27 2009 / by Garry Golden
Category: Technology Year: General Rating: 2
Geek.com has a nice snapshot of the three fuel cell models including a hybrid lithium ion battery charger.
Many 'gadget' bloggers love to hate fuel cells because of missed 'hype' expectations. But the appeal of hydrogen's 'clean molecules' is hard to escape. And business leaders with foresight see a nice path to growth around micro-fuel cells and packet-based refueling sales.
Ironically the first commercial applications for micro fuel cells are likely to be 'battery rechargers'! A number of startups have early products already on the market, and analysts expect Toshiba to release its first generation product this year.
Portable Power Systems: Enabling a 21st Century Energy Solution
Fuel cells generate power by converting chemical energy into electricity. They are ideal candidates for low cost, reliable, distributed power generators and portable power systems that do not need to be 'plugged in' to our electrical grid.
This is a simple but profound idea. Decoupling portable power from the grid by 'refueling' instead of 'recharging' opens up new global markets.
Retail based 'Packets vs Wall socket-based Streams'
It is time to rethink how we deliver energy to the world. Are we dependent on electricity from wall sockets and the 'grid'? Or can we imagine a new model that distributes 'packets' of power over retail shelves.
Did ubiquitous access to water stop bottled water companies from creating a multi-billion industry?
So, do not expect that an incumbent electrical grid can stop the retail sale of 'packets' of energy (via methanol, or solid hydrogen)
The vision is that we 'unplug everything' and shift from recharging via batteries, to refueling via fuel cells.
The difference between recharging via a wall socket and refueling with packets is subtle, but profound (especially when you can't find a wall socket!).
Fuel cells enable us to decouple electricity consumption from the 'stream' of grid electrons, by enabling fuel (hydrogen, methanol, et al) to be sold in 'packets'.
There is certainly a convenience factor of not having to carry a cord-charger to 'plug in' your portable devices. But the more profound business model is delivering 'packets' of electricity to billions of people in the world who do not have access to wall sockets!
Micro power systems could emerge as this century's great disruptive energy platforms. Fuel cells, hydrogen and hydrogen-rich fuels remain misunderstood and misrepresented by 'gadget bloggers' who cannot understand the science or business implications of 'refueling' based micro power systems.
More on this in a later post! But the takeaway here is - do not understimate 'clean molecules'.
Image Credit? Who knows!! This image is everywhere!