We have heard a whole lot of talk about fuel cells and of course it is a worthy endeavor. Portable generators, cars, transportation industry, Power generators, Ships, etc. can benefit. However in a mobile application such as a shuttle bus, car, truck, train, tractor, motor scooter or even a Segway air-cushioned platform mover, there is the problem of heat. The heat occurs on transfer of fuel. So if we are talking about a portable application the heat can make steam and the steam can be used for additional power needed also. In an off road application when we are in places of drought and extreme fire hard there is a significant problem which needs to be better addressed with the material sciences to control the heat. Everyone knows that 2-cycle motorcycles get hot and can cause fires if you are not careful.
The hydrogen cell problem with it's temperatures could be significantly worse. In larger vehicles there have been ways to mitigate this, with additional insulation panels, however in a small off road vehicle or ATV, the problem becomes more significant. When I speak of ATV, I mean All-terrain vehicle, not the Fuel Cell term of Advanced Technology Vehicle. At Texas A and M. they are working on just such a project.
When we are talking motorcycles, and ATVs the cooling system is the major obstacle, wouldn't you know it. There is always some hitch and it does appear that this small obstacle is in fact being taken care of through new material sciences and it is critical indeed as we have seen urban heat of five plus degrees within various regions of the US due to concrete and asphalt without one fuel cell car and we know that reciprocal engines of gasoline motors run about 300 or so degrees, which is a lot less than the conversion rate to pure hydrogen? Well these engineering barriers are being pummeled currently as the innovators in America accept the challenge and refuse to go back, such is the nature of the American Spirit, Never ever, ever, ever Give Up. Winston Churchill could have been an American, he certainly talked like one and this current situation could have used such talk. And of course he comes from the same stock as many of us do. Well it appears many University Researchers in this country may just beat President Bush's cautious commitment to bring this technology to the forefront by 2012. We are now seeing the strides of innovation take hold. From the Spinglass Scooters to potential Segway Models.
Now then, the components of these vehicles cannot be made of lightweight composite. Some types of composite unfortunately give off Cyanide Gas when they burn. We of course have been learning this from the F-117 Stealth crashes and the potentiality of the 7E7 half composite airliners. So what material do you make these units out of which is safe for anything from a ride on lawn mower to a laptop computer 90 watt power system. Even Plastics melt and give off some pretty toxic substances? Ceramic Coatings or glass coatings on top of other materials, indeed may be one solution. As a matter of fact this is just about the only known solution for the exhaust and catalyst systems (which run extremely hot and glow inside) in current exhaust systems. Many think it can be applied to the heat issues of hydrogen cells as well and of course after reading many articles and studies in the Ceramics Industry, I believe there is ample opportunity there.
We have been studying these situations for our company in the Mobile Oil Change Business figuring if we cannot change the oil in the future as a business we can replace filters and membranes with re-usable ceramic materials which maybe found in the new technologies associated with fuel cells. But where will all these filters be discharged? After all Glass takes quite a while to decompose rendering it's half life closer than that of uranium to lead, then from Ceramic filter to dirt? Will future archeologists dig up these nifty ceramic filters in old garbage dumps in the decomposed semi-crude oil remenance and wonder what on Earth we used them for and proving that we were indeed a species of significant cognitive worth? As we look at ceramic coatings such as Adsil (google it to learn more) and others we realize that they decrease corrosion from things like the nasty Magnesium Chlorides put on roads in the North during ice and snowstorms.
Will we need to coat the entire car with glass to prevent fire? Will this mean you will wash your car with Windex? Is glass cleaning services a future growth industry then, since more things will be made from glass including much of the coating on a car. Will this foil the efforts of GM, Ford, Honda and Toyota in planned obsolescence? In other words whoever is making the cars, whether it is GM-Ballard partnership, Eaton-Ford Partnership or a Multi-National Foreign Conglomerate of China, Japan, Korea, US then will cars last so long people will buy fewer of them or will the Chinese demand for oil drive the prices of crude up so fast and furious that the whole world will begin to switch to fuel cells at once during a last hurrah of overbearing gas and diesel prices. Cars which last too long mean consumer will not continue to buy new cars which on average now is 3.1 years in the middle class of America. Now do not go out and buy Windex Stock right now. No matter what this is still many years off.
You will see in the future that many companies and even military, NASA and others use ceramic coatings on equipment to prolong life. Corrosion issues are serious in all sectors, including shipping containers, truck chassis, braking systems, railroad, automotive, even a rusty lawn-mower with many plastic parts from your local Home Depot, Lowes or Wal*Mart.
Ceramic coatings even applied at 5 mils are enough to seal the aluminum pores enough to solve basic corrosion problems. Corrosion control is especially important to military equipment after wartime. Sure it provides jobs to make new tanks, humvees and armored personnel carriers, but there maybe budget concerns as well to think about. After all some of the T-34 tanks used by our enemy were how old? Still running, perhaps with corrosion controls of ceramics, the ones left could be put in museums forever? A remainder of the Human Species and her need to wage war, perhaps an innate characteristic which may eventually be bread out of our genome, but probably not likely soon. Hydrogen cell tanks, yes there are many such projects going on now.
What will the routine maintenance service companies look like in the future? How will they maintain their ROIs and Proformas, forward looking statements and spreadsheets, Warren Buffet style balance sheets, quarterly profits and shareholder's equity? These companies to harvest continued cash flow in these cleaning, maintenance and coating industries will need to drastically modify their procedures. As we see from this weeks devastating Hurricane Charley, we need to pay attention to the global warming problems as they are real and when you turn up the heat, the surrounding atmosphere will notice and when it comes to mother nature, she is quite sure of what she is doing.
I hope you have enjoyed this provocative topic and interesting study on Fuel Cells for motorcycles, trucks, trains, tanks, ATVs, ships, etc. as it pertains to global warming, urban heat, Fire Hazards from heat exchanges and risks associated with these new technologies.
The future is going to be a most excellent place to live as long as we pay attention to what we are doing on the way to get there.
"Lance Winslow" - Online Think Tank forum board. If you have innovative thoughts and unique perspectives, come think with Lance; www.WorldThinkTank.net/wttbbs/