Residential fuel cells now being developed combine hydrogen from natural gas or propane with oxygen from the air to produce electricity. Homeowners might be able to meet all of their energy needs with a residential fuel cell and, in some cases, even sell excess energy to a utility. Currently, PTC 50, an ASME standard, is used to measure fuel cell system performance, but it does not take into account either seasonal changes in heating and cooling requirements, or a residence's quickly changing demands for electricity.
To bridge the gap between the PTC 50 standard and the information that consumers will need to make economic decisions on installing a fuel cell, NIST researchers have published proposed test and rating methods* that will help consumers assess the economic feasibility of four different types of residential fuel cells under different climate conditions in six different geographic locations. The rating will provide the annual electrical energy produced, fuel consumed, thermal energy for domestic water heating and space heating delivered, and water used by the residential fuel cell system.
The four fuel cell types studied include systems that operate independent of the power grid with all generated power used by the residence itself; systems connected to the grid, in which electrical power output remains constant and excess electricity is sold to the utility; systems for thermal space and domestic water heating similarly connected to the grid to supplement the fuel cell power when needed; and similar but smaller systems used primarily for water heating.
The NIST test methodology and performance rating procedure uses building energy simulation results for three days, one each for winter, spring/fall, and summer for a prototypical house located in a representative city within six Department of Energy (DOE) designated climate zones, including Jacksonville, Fla.; Charleston, S.C.; Memphis, Tenn.; Pittsburgh, Pa.; Minneapolis, Minn.; and Astoria, Ore.
The NIST researchers expect to present their test methodology and performance rating procedures to standards organizations this summer. Several manufacturers have provided input on the rating methodology.
John Blair | EurekAlert!
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The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
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Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.
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The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.
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