Some news of the day (today, July 1st) that you most likely didn’t get (as well as another today's item down below):
Some hours ago the first attempt of Solar Impulse for a day and night flight powered solely with solar energy had to be postponed. While our guests and the journalists said goodbye and Brian Jones most probably is having a cocktail on the beach, our engineers continue working on the telemtrie problems which popped up this morning.
Friday evening I can give you a next update.
See you then. Martin
I’ve long been fascinated by the idea of dirigibles replacing jet aircraft. Now I’m looking forward to the first flight of a dirigible with envelope made totally of strong, light weight, efficient solar panels that provide power for silent electric motors. It’s a natural – why is it taking so long?
Also I’ve been enthusiastic about fuel cells as power source for land vehicles. They begin to look ever more promising as electric vehicles begin to lose some of their shine. For one the battery needed to power electric vehicles is no more than an energy storage device that has to be filled up regularly and often with, well, energy. Of course Lithium as mineral base for these batteries has been the buzz word for some time but nickel and zinc based batteries, especially the zinc-air storage battery, apparently have distinct advantages.
But even given a really good storage battery hydrogen fuel cells seem to me certain to take their place. Iceland pioneered – and still leads - in the fuel cell vehicle effort. There was a slight - and scary - hiccup when the financial crisis put a damper on their enthusiasm for almost anything innovative. For a while it looked like the hydrogen project would get shelved in favor of electric vehicles. Ford, though, sent Iceland another 10 FCV’s (that – I think - brings the total to 22) and for that and other reasons Iceland’s hydrogen project got new legs.
What could be better than a vehicle that runs on plentiful hydrogen and emits only water? Sounds great but there’s of course the big hitch – where do you get the hydrogen? You can get it from some fossil fuels - gases - but there you are, just about where you started. The hope is that ultimately water will provide the hydrogen but again that chemical process, electrolysis, requires an external energy source. Solar power - maybe geothermal power - could conceivably provide the answer.
At any rate Iceland is far from alone in the effort. I’ve been surprised to find out that the U.S. Department of Energy is deeply engaged in hydrogen research. And, even more surprising to me, that California has a good many fuel cell vehicles on the road along with several hydrogen stations throughout the state to service them.
Another good sign is that universities, with government support and encouragement, are also in the mix. For instance the University of North Florida, just today, July 1st, secured $9.4 million for fuel cell development.
And so fuel cells appear alive and well. I don’t believe that I’ll be looking to buy an EV of any type given FCV's promising prospects.