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Old 05-28-2011, 03:40 PM   #1
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RV Fuel Cell: Is This the Future of Off Grid Power?

Four times the output of 100Wp solar, almost no sound, works in the dark, fits in the generator compartment. This is available in Europe and Canada. What do you guys think?

http://www.efoy.com/en/mobile-homes-benefits.html
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Old 05-28-2011, 03:52 PM   #2
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Re: RV Fuel Cell: Is This the Future of Off Grid Power?

Great, if it's actually available, but I do see tremendous potential there.


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Old 05-28-2011, 04:10 PM   #3
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Re: RV Fuel Cell: Is This the Future of Off Grid Power?

I wonder if it's legal to drive to Canada and have one installed, or to just have it shipped? A problem would be shipping the fuel canisters.
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Old 05-28-2011, 04:14 PM   #4
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Re: RV Fuel Cell: Is This the Future of Off Grid Power?

Hmm, a bit vague on what it actually is and how it works. Sounds very interesting though. It uses methanol fuel and i guess creates electricity through some chemical reaction... no moving parts.

Took me a while to find this:

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How does the EFOY fuel cell work?

An EFOY fuel cell directly converts liquid methanol (from safety cartridges) into electrical current. Thanks to this direct conversion, which proceeds quietly and emissions free without any moving parts, it is extremely efficient, clean and environmentally friendly. The basic principle is an electrochemical process also known as “cold combustion“. It is almost the exact opposite of electrolysis.

As a practical matter, the fuel cell in a motor home is directly connected to the battery and it continually monitors the charge fully automatically. The moment that battery voltage drops below 12.3 volts (or another individually chosen threshold), the fuel cell automatically cuts in and charges the battery. Once the cutoff voltage is reached (14.2 volts is the default setting although other settings are possible), the fuel cell automatically returns to standby mode. Not only will you always have full power available but your batteries will last longer since continual charging protects them against the harmful effects of going completely dead.
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Old 05-28-2011, 04:18 PM   #5
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Re: RV Fuel Cell: Is This the Future of Off Grid Power?

If you can just get methanol, wherever it's available, and don't have to use their branded, packaged fuel, then there are probably options in any city. Right? I mean methanol is pretty available isn't it? Is it the same stuff race cars use?
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Old 06-01-2011, 12:12 AM   #6
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Re: RV Fuel Cell: Is This the Future of Off Grid Power?

I bought one of these a couple of months ago to put into my new rig. I will post a complete installation report when I get my rig next week. I pick it up from SMB on the 6th of June.

I am no tree hugger so my motivation to buy the thing is purely selfish and the environmental advantages were secondary. It makes no more noise than a typical PC and will keep the house battery automatically topped off by kicking in at a user-defined low water mark for the battery voltage. I think the default is 12.5v for it to turn on.

The fuel cell cartridges are purified methanol and a 5 liter one is supposed to last at least a couple of weeks depending on who much electricity you use, how much you run the van and if you have solar panels. My van will have two 185 watt solar panels so I would expect that the 10 liter fuel cartridge I plan to use will last for at least 3 or four weeks of use. I think the fuel was about 50 bucks.

The bad news: These things are not cheap. I bought the one with the most output EFOY 2200 (2,200 watt hours per day or about 180 amp hours per day) and it cost me a fat $5,800.

After dropping 125 large on the van including 4 large on the full floating rear axle, I rationalized another 6 grand for the fuel cell so that I will never lack power when dry camping. We will have a dish and DVR plus computers and the larger fridge - so I figured I would have needed a generator in any case. I just hated the thought of having to turn the genny on and off, keeping it full of fuel (not to mention listening to it).

The fuel cell has none of those problems. If you want one you have to contact one of the marine dealers on the east coast because EFOY has not been rolled out into the USA RV dealer network yet. Although they are available through a lot of RV dealers in Canada.

Stay tuned in the next couple of weeks for my posting in this thread on the installation of the unit and I will post later on a report on its performance.
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Old 06-01-2011, 05:39 AM   #7
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Re: RV Fuel Cell: Is This the Future of Off Grid Power?

I'm going to stay tuned to this channel. If the fuel cell works as advertised, I think you've made a good investment. You mentioned the price of the fuel cell, but any idea of the cost of the methanol cartridges? Lastly, does this get mounted inside the van, or in a bumper box?


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Old 06-01-2011, 07:21 AM   #8
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Re: RV Fuel Cell: Is This the Future of Off Grid Power?

Quote:
Originally Posted by BIGRICH805
I rationalized
Why play slippery slope when there are cliffs to dive off, right?

Is there an expected lifetime for the system?
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Old 06-01-2011, 08:28 AM   #9
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Re: RV Fuel Cell: Is This the Future of Off Grid Power?

Found this post on a marine board. It's from 2007.

Quote:
Well guys, I just happen to be the VP of Engineering for a company called UltraCell. We make micro fuel cells for the military at this time, but we will eventually find our way into the consumer markets once MEA technologies improve and balance of plant components are cheaper to produce.

For all practical purposes, there are only two companies making MEAs which are at the heart and sole of the fuel cell. Dupont produces an MEA using Nafion while BASF just got into the game by buying PEMEAS who makes our MEAs based on a PBI/Phosphoric acid technology originally used on the Apollo fuel cells.

From these two types of MEAs, there are a large assortment of fuel cell technologies being developed which differ by the means of delivering hydrogen to the MEA. Our technology relies on reformed methanol to produce hydrogen on demand, while many others use compressed hydrogen gas.

The two greatest challenges for the fuel cell technology at this time are MEA life and durability, and safe/cost effective production and delivery of hydrogen to the cell stack. Knowing the true nature of these challenges, I can assure you that the diesel engine is safe for at least another decade.

My personal dream and technical goal is to produce a fuel cell that can reform heavy fuel like diesel within a system that can also extract hydrogen from sea water. Such a system would ultimately give the sailor true autonomy from land.

If you have any questions regarding Fuel Cell technology, I?ll gladly provide whatever answers I can.

FYI, Maxpower Marine Fuel Cell is produced by the German company Smart Fuel Cells. Smart is our #1 Competition in micro fuel cells. They are partly owned by Dupont and we are partly owned by BASF.
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Old 06-01-2011, 09:00 AM   #10
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Re: RV Fuel Cell: Is This the Future of Off Grid Power?

Since EFOY warrants it for 3 years I would imagine the thing will last quite a long time. How long is anyone's guess. I think the only moving parts have to do with the ventilation/cooling (fans). EFOY stresses the importance of using their fuel because of its purity. What I understand is that when these fuel cells first came out people were using what they thought to be pure methanol (there are different grades of purity) and the fuel cells got damaged or clogged or stoped working because of the poor quality fuel. How convenient (for them) that you have to buy their fuel.

I looked around on the net and there are sites selling purified methanol (mostly to industry). Unless you buy it by the drum, the price is about the same. One of the drawbacks right now is that since there is no local RV dealer with the fuel, I will have to have it shipped to me and the hazmat surcharges are not insignificant. A 5 liter cartridge is $47 and a 10 liter $55. Add normal shipping plus the $20 hazmat charge per shipment (not per cartridge). For me, the 10 liter was an easy choice given the pricing structure.

http://usmarineproducts.com/osc/inde...deb0353071409d

You can mount it inside the van. There is a small exhaust hole that you would need to run to the outside. The cell emits about the same amount of C02 as a small child breathing and some water vapor. So there are no worries about toxic fumes.

I don't think I have room inside my van because I have a heater and water heater. I plan to put it inside the large Aluminess box on the outside.
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