Hydrogen Generator Experiment
Patrick and I have recently begun experimenting with a hydrogen generator. Through this project we hope to learn enough about creating and storing hydrogen gas that we will be able to utilize it as a power storage medium, as well as in a soldering torch. We are planning to use methane as our primary cooking and heating fuel, though stored hydrogen could be used for backup. Though the production of many alternative fuels is quite complex, hydrogen can be easily obtained through electrolysis.
Electrolysis is a fairly simple process that can be used to split water molecules into hydrogen (H) and oxygen (O). During electrolysis electricity is channeled into a chamber of water. The water acts as a conductor allowing electricity to pass between two electrodes, which divides the H2O into individual hydrogen and oxygen molecules. Once freed, oxygen bubbles collect on the anode and hydrogen on the cathode.
Producing hydrogen with electrolysis is relatively straightforward, however capturing and storing the hydrogen gas is a much greater challenge. The current configuration of our hydrogen generator captures hydrogen and feeds it into a small tank, while releasing the oxygen as a byproduct. Though the hydrogen becomes slightly pressurized in the tank as it is stored, finding ways to further compress the gas will be key to amassing an ample quantity of the fuel for use. We also hope to find a way to capture and store the oxygen that is released for use in the hydrogen torch.
Using Hydrogen as an Alternative Fuel
The good news is hydrogen production via electrolysis is an environmentally friendly process! The only byproducts are hydrogen and oxygen – no harmful pollutants whatsoever. No petrochemicals are required, only water and a source of electricity.
As part of our hydrogen experiment we would like to transform our excess solar power into stored hydrogen gas. We can use the over abundance of electricity that is generated by our pvs in the heat of the day to create hydrogen with electrolysis. On a cloudy day the hydrogen can then be used to power a generator, which will convert the gas back into a usable form of electricity.
Hydrogen can also be used in its gas form. With slight modification propane stoves, heaters, and grills can be optimized to burn hydrogen fuel. We even suspect that in a grid reliant house the production and use of hydrogen as a cooking fuel could reduce the total amount of grid electricity that is used for cooking by 80 percent!
Use of hydrogen as an alternative fuel has huge potential, though its practical application has yet to be defined. We hope that our experiments with alternative fuels will help us to integrate alternative fuels into our everyday lives and will completely eliminate the need for fossils fuels in our home.
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