So, lets see if I can summarise this....
Currently the offering is significantly more expensive than existing charging methods, no more environmentally friendly than existing engine based system and considerably worse for the environment than solar and wind, and potentially dangerous if it fails.... can't say its inspiring me at the moment to go rushing out and spend a good few grand!
Three related questions to the manufacturer if I may please (in order to judge when the moment to adopt fuel cells might arrive):
1. what is the overall energetic efficiency of the process? Ie how many Joules / kg of fuel used do we get as electrical energy compared to the number of Joules which one would get were the fuel to be burned?
2. How does that compare to a modern diesel engined generator, lets say a 5kW one? (ie does one have to carry more or less volume of fuel for the same amount of elctrical energy?)
3. What do you think is the likely improvement we can expect over time? (Please say if the improvement, if any, relies on other fuels such as hydrogen becoming availbale).
i dont think i would buy one if they were £400, solar and wind for me.
Could you let us have the details of the fuel cell you used for the Fastnet, how it was installed and what sort or electrics you were running for the race?
I am also interested to find out what a surveyor would say about the installation from a Code of Practice for Small Commercial Craft would have to say?
Tom, your website says "Our parent company has had industrial units out in the field for up to four years. A few of these early units are beginning to come back, some with simple-to-fix faults and a few which are clearly at the end of their life. Most of these have 4,000 or more hours operational hours logged."
Bearing in mind the optional 3-year warranty you offer has a 3000 hour limit, should we assume that around 4000 hours is the life expectancy of a leisure fuel cell? If so, the fuel cost of around 3p per Ah produced would go up to 25p per Ah on the £1750 smallest unit!
Thank you, it is the first time I hear about commercially available fuel cells, therefore the post is more than welcome.
The solution attracts me because it is always hard to find a suitable and large enough space to fit an effective solar panel on a sail boat, whilst wind turbines always end up with spoiling the elegance of sailing yachts' lines.
However the price you quoted for the max 90W (is £4615 inclusive of VAT for us mortals? I ask because I am afraid my salary is not + VAT!!!) is very, very expensive. I would be prepared to consider an installation if the prices where more competitive with solar and wind generation costs per Watt. I would accept a little more, but not 10 times more.
Last edited by haydude; 19-01-11 at 16:29.
I may be one of the few forumites who uses a fuel cell. I have a fuel cell and a single solar panel.
I did a 10-day trip last summer, and my particular cell (bought second hand and about 4 years old) worked flawlessly.
What's great - silent, no maintenance (OK I think they have to be refurbished after a few years), no emissions (OK, a bit of water in the bilge, some CO2 that you don't notice and a bit of heat in the cabin), "fit and forget" (it goes on and off as necessary, or you can choose when to charge if you prefer), light (the units themselves are almost unbelievably light - you could literally pick a unit up with one finger. Fuel obviously weighs more)
What's not so great - cost, cost of fuel, storage of fuel, won't start up with a dead battery (you need some battery power to start the electronics to get it into charging mode)
It is probably still a niche product and I have heard of some particular examples that have had reliability problems (maybe the unit that was built on a Monday morning). But my experience is entirely positive.
I may even fit a second one for redundancy on my transatlantic trip.
What an excellent thread! ... and it's gone on for several pages without anybody being rude to anybody else!
Morgana (no relation) seems to sum it up well for me. It looks like good technology but except for special cases is simply not economically justifiable for ordinary mortals. Can we expect it to become appreciably cheaper, I wonder, or does the technology involve materials whose availability will be mean the price will always be high?