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 WFS NEWS & UPCOMING EVENTS
May 1, 2015 - The divestment movement that began in American universities, progressed to include Rockefellers among its successes, has now won over the
May 1, 2015 - Time to come clean. A few days ago I wrote a sneak preview of Tesla's upcoming announcement about a home battery to use with solar rooftop panels. Well I couldn't have gotten my information more wrong.
April 30, 2015 - My wife and I rent a condominium. We cannot install solar panels as a result. And when you consider our apartment uses electric heating, and the bills we have received this winter, I would love to see solar panels sprouting on the property.
April 29, 2015 - The world is increasingly urbanized. In the past six decades the population of the planet has shifted with more than half of us living on less than 1% of the global land area - cities. These urban spaces are the economic engines of human civilization and many are increasingly at risk because of declining access to freshwater.
April 28, 2015 - Are extreme weather events the "smoking gun" of climate change?
April 27, 2015 - It isn't much but even a trickle of water that gets to the sea from the Colorado River is a huge change for Northwestern Mexico, something that has rarely been seen since 1960.
How has this come about?