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.
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!