Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Personal Fuel Cells from Nippon Oil Corp

In Japan, various corporations have been experimenting with supplying homes with their own fuel cells for CHP, combined provision of power, heat, and hot water. These projects are likely to be emulated in other parts of the world, as the bugs are worked out, and as new technology comes online that is better adapted to home use.
Nippon Oil Corp. will begin full-scale sales of home-use fuel cell systems in the year ending March 31, 2010 by creating a nationwide dealership network comprising 100 or so liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and kerosene sales agents. The company is targeting sales of 10,000 units in fiscal 2010.

Switching to fuel cells reduces carbon dioxide emissions from homes by 30-40%, and the Japanese government is expected to start subsidizing fuel cell installations in fiscal 2009 as a measure for reducing Japan’s global warming gas emissions.

Nippon Oil’s fuel cell production joint venture with Sanyo Electric Co. is slated to start mass-production in April. By fiscal 2015, the company hopes to lower the price of its household fuel cell systems to around 500,000 yen [US$5,500] and bolster their sales to 40,000 units a year.

Idemitsu Kosan Co., in partnership with Toshiba, is also developing home-use fuel cell systems. _Fuelcellsworks
Notice that these fuel cells were designed to run on natural gas or kerosene. Hydrogen is a cleaner fuel for such purposes but the infrastructure for hydrogen distribution and home use is not in place. Trying to adapt hydrogen fuel cells for homes will be easier than for automobiles, however.

The CHP aspect of fuel cells is a good match for home use, particularly in colder climates. But even in warm climates, hot water is always needed, and more creative uses of waste heat are being devised all the time.



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