The Whole Foods Fuel Cell: How it Works

Along with the solar array on the roof, the Whole Foods in Dedham has a fuel cell providing around 400kW of their energy needs.  So, what, exactly is a fuel cell and how does it work?  Take a look at this video from UTCPower:

If you remember back to your Science classes, you may recognize the basic structure – anode, electrolyte, cathode – the same idea as a battery.  Push hydrogen through the thing, it makes electricity.

Here’s another short video showing the layout of the three modules that are in the Whole Foods back lot:

It’s not magic, it doesn’t just run on water and air…  the one in Dedham runs on Natural Gas, but with this advantage- you’re not burning it.  You’re extracting the hydrogen from it.  No smoke.  It’s very quiet, and it boasts almost 90% efficiency.

To learn more about fuel cell technology, take a look at the UTCPower Youtube channel, here.  The UTCPower “How it Works” page is here.

Funny, what got me into the electric motorcycle thing at the very beginning was a story about a fuel cell motorcycle.  The thing that got me interested was the fact that it was pretty much silent…  one thing led to another, and here I am, but the idea of a fuel cell powering an electric vehicle is something you see on a recurring basis…  however, probably, unlikely.  It’s just too unwieldy for a small vehicle, however Jetsons-like it may seem.  As a buddy of mine said once, “I can’t wait for a fuel-cell motorcycle!  I’ll park it right next to my Unicorn!”

But wait.  What’s this?

This was from 2009.  Not much heard from them since, but it’s a lot more real than the last Unicorn I saw.  Will it ever hit the market?  Hard to say.  Still…  for applications where it makes sense, some very cool technology!



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