Gizmos & Gadgets: A Fuel Cell That is Powered by Cook Stove Fires
Here's an interesting fact. Greater than half of the population of this planet prepares meals each day using indoor open fires or cook stoves. There are enormous health implications for those families, and in particular infants, who breathe in the toxic smoke that includes carbon monoxide (CO) leading to lung disease and premature death. But despite this danger the lack of an energy infrastructure necessitates continued use.
So an inventive bunch has taken 10 years of research done by Berkeley National Laboratory in California and come up with an inexpensive technology to exploit the energy and output of open fires and cook stoves. Their invention, the Voto, a metal-supported solid oxide fuel cell uses biomass as fuel to generate electricity. They call the process of conversion of biomass to energy, Votosynthesis. That's because the device does the reverse of photosynthesis converting carbon compounds in biomass, combined with oxygen, into electricity, heat, water and CO2.
The 5-watt Voto can run on any biomass but works best with charcoal, a common fuel used in cook stoves throughout the Developing World. Voto can be used as a home charger for mobile devices or as an energy source for indoor lighting replacing kerosene lanterns.
How does it work? Voto uses a thin layer of ceramic placed on stainless steel cards combined with a low-cost catalyst to create a thermal shock tolerant technology that is inexpensive to manufacture. It works optimally when heated to 700-800 Celsius (1,292 - 1,472 Fahrenheit) degrees. Two cooking sessions fully charges each unit. Because fuel sources vary the cards degrade on average in 3 to 4 months. But the cost savings from using less kerosene more than offsets replacing the cards.
Voto is being marketed by Point Source Power which has plans to distribute its product in Kenya later this year.
Essays and comments posted in World Future Society and THE FUTURIST magazine blog portion of this site are the intellectual property of the authors, who retain full responsibility for and rights to their content. For permission to publish, distribute copies, use excerpts, etc., please contact the author. The opinions expressed are those of the author. The World Future Society takes no stand on what the future will or should be like.
Keep up with the World Future Society. Subscribe to our mailing list:
February 11, 2016 - The problem with greenhouse gases is they don't recognize political boundaries. Carbon dioxide emitted in China and the United States impacts the entire globe.
February 11, 2016 - In the world of smart devices these days reliance on a plug in charging system is like walking around with an anchor dragging behind you. I have written about wireless recharging technologies that use pads.
February 10, 2016 - That Albert Einstein was a pretty smart guy. A century ago in a thought experiment leading to general relativity he theorized gravitational waves.
February 10, 2016 - The conservative wing of the American Supreme Court is not interested in combating climate change. Instead 5 justices have buried their heads in the sand in the name of non-science and nonsense.
February 10, 2016 - Entitled Leading Edge Asynchronous Propeller Technology (LEAPTech), this experimental hybrid-electric propulsion system will soon move from a test bed on the back of a truck at Edwards Air Force Base in California, to a demonstration X-plane expected to fly in 2019.
February 9, 2016 - At the Paris climate talks greenhouse gas emissions from ships and airplanes were discussed but there was no final agreement on a cap.
February 8, 2016 - Peter Diamandis talks about what happens when eight different exponential technologies come onto the scene at the same time. In a series of blogs that I will share with my readers here he waxes poetic on a future where the following fields will morph and recombine to produce an unpredictable future. What's fields are these?
February 7, 2016 - In 2020 if all goes according to plan NASA will introduce the first integrated-photonic modem, a device the size of a cell phone that incorporates lasers and fiber optics into integrated circuitry. The end result will be a dramatic increase in the speed of data and voice transmission.