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Newsfront: Fuel Cells Move into the CPI Plant

By Gerald Ondrey |

Fuel cells and hydrogen economy are inevitably used in the same breath when talking about clean power and ways to wean us from our addiction to carbon-based fuels. That’s because H2 -based fuel cells make electricity and heat with only water in the exhaust. Unfortunately, realistic assessments of the current situation conclude that it will be awhile — perhaps decades — before hydrogen power replaces coal and petroleum in the consumer applications for which it is commonly touted. This is mainly due to the lack of infrastructure to store, transport and distribute H2; but also because current fuel cells are very expensive and require very pure H2 to avoid poisoning their precious-metal catalysts. In parts of the chemical process industries (CPI), however, these complications have far less impact. Although a tremendous amount of R&D is underway to improve fuel cells and lower their costs for consumer applications, such as powering cars, heating homes and running laptops and mobile telephones, efforts to develop large-scale fuel cells for use at production plants in the CPI have just recently started to become a reality. This breakthrough takes advantage of the availability of a relatively unlimited supply of stationary…
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