Residential fuel cells sound almost too good to be true. Take a hydrocarbon fuel such as natural gas, use a catalyst to extract hydrogen from it, react the hydrogen with air and, presto, you have a home power plant!
As the hydrogen and the oxygen in the air combine, they produce electricity. The primary "waste products" of the whole process are water and heat. But thats not all! The "waste" heat can be captured to provide space or water heating for the home.
Residential fuel cell systems can produce about five kilowatts of power or 120 kilowatt-hours of energy a day--more than enough to operate the average household. But a lack of performance data on how well fuel cells work under different conditions is one of several factors slowing marketplace acceptance of the new technology.
John Blair | EurekAlert!
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