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Methane Fuel Cell

Methane Fuel Cell
  [vote for,

Why in the heck would you use H2 when you can use methane? Hydrogen isn't readily available, and is extremely hard to transport and store with current technologies. Hydrogen is 100% clean but still out of the grasp of current technology to harness. My idea is cleaner than octane and more efficient but not as good as hydrogen, still would help aide the development of technologies that will be necessary for hydrogen.

Take Methane and make a fuel cell that adds oxygen to the CH4 and generate electricity + 4 water molecules and 1 carbon dioxide molecule. This is much cleaner than octane and more efficient. Methane takes up much less space than hydrogen and would be more practical to store in fuel tanks. You could also make more methane in the future using algae, biomass, human sewage, and landfill gas. As well you could use nuclear power and electrolysis to make methane out of the carbon dioxide in the air and water. The methane could be readily accessed from your natural gas line to your home and could power up the fuel cell in your house to provide electricity in your house. You would use this electricity to power your house when electrical demand is high such as in the summer during the day to save the power plants from being overwhelmed.

Who cares about how clean it is, what is really important is having an alternative to buying a lot of petroleum from terrorist states. Now you can buy a little bit. As well this is a step forward to H2 fuel cells.

JoeLounsbury, Feb 24 2004

Butane & diesel fuel cells http://www.scienced...09/010905072008.htm
[krelnik, Oct 17 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Methane and Siberia http://orionrobots.co.uk/blogs/1/163
Some rumination on using the methane gas in the siberian lakes. [dannystaple, Nov 28 2007]

Baked http://www.nature.c...5/abs/400649a0.html
Letter to "Nature" from 1999 [goldbb, Nov 04 2010]


       its not the greatest source of power either.
morbiddesire, Feb 25 2004

       Some other fuels like butane and diesel have been made practical for this use, however. See link.
krelnik, Feb 25 2004

       wow that is what I was thinking of. A fuel cell that would work on hydrocarbons. This is very good news considering that fuel cells are 66% efficient and have the potential to be much more efficient. Internal combustion engines are only 40-50% efficient. In a car this could be much better than hybrid engines even. This could possibly get around 80 miles to the gallon or more with disel fuel cells.
JoeLounsbury2004, Feb 25 2004

       Direct methanol fuel cells exist too, which allows for liquid fuel. With methane, an existing solution is to use a reformer, which extracts hydrogen from natural gas, so you can actually run an H2 fuel cell from a natural gas line with an extra piece of equipment in the middle. Neither is as clean as pure H2, but a start.
Etymon, Feb 25 2004

       "Methane takes up much less space than hydrogen..."
How so?
phoenix, Nov 28 2007

       //How so?//
CH4 contains 4 H atoms, H2 contains 2. Methane is 8x heavier though.
FlyingToaster, Feb 16 2009

       //"Methane takes up much less space than hydrogen..." How so?//   

       Under the ideal gas laws, the actual size of the molecule, and it's mass, is irrelevant in terms of molar density. In other words, for a given pressure, temperature and volume, the you get a fixed number of gas molecules. Ergo, given a methane molecule contains more hydrogen than a hydrogen one does (CH4 VS H2) - then so long as you aren't liquifying the gas ( and you're unlikely to liquify Hydrogen or Methane for storage) - Methane is more hydrogen-dense (spatially) than Hydrogen itself.   

       Coincidentially (or, actually, not at all...) Methane yields more combustion energy per unit mass than any of the other hydrocarbons.
Custardguts, Feb 16 2009


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