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Fuel-Cell Backup Power Under Your Desk

timothy posted more than 12 years ago | from the and-a-nikon-d1x-please dept.

Technology 220

An Anonymous Coward writes "Just up this evening on the Coleman Powermate web site: This is the first commercial fuel cell product that I am aware of. Who wants one under their Christmas tree?" I just wish the fuel wasn't quite so expensive.

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

I try to access it... (-1, Troll)

RussGarrett (90459) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678161)

and I get this:

SecureIIS application firewall security alert

HTTP Request caused a security alert, please contact our web master if you are getting this alert in error.

What is SecureIIS
SecureIIS offers websites running Microsoft Internet Information Server a broad range of protection from common vulnerabilities, both known and unknown. Because SecureIIS does not protect against specific vulnerabilities, but classes of vulnerabilities, it allows for a much more far reaching layer of security.

Hmm... so Slashdotting is a common security vulnerability now...? :) Hmmm...

Re:I try to access it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2678167)

its eeyes security software that runs with IIs

www.eeye.com

Re:I try to access it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2678258)

I mirrored the page on GeoCities [geocities.com]

So much for copyright...

Specs (1)

nick255 (139962) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678162)

POWER=1000 Watts (Batteries Charged)
RUN TIME @ 50% LOAD=6 Hours

For the price, looks like it could be worth it.....

Re:Specs (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2678183)

Are you nuts??? The price works out to about $139 per amp hour... (6 canisters at $2500, supplying only 3 hours of power each at 1kw)

You'd be better off buying a bank of rechargable lead-acid batteries and a charger/inverter. [tracebackuppower.com] Not to mention that you'd probably be able to generate output at much more than 1kw with such a setup.

The only benefit I can see here is space savings, and the ability to generate power indefinitely assuming that you have a big stock of these hydride canisters on hand. Otherwise, this stuff is way too expensive, and I'm assuming that you can't recharge empty canisters with utility power...

SOUND (1)

TinheadNed (142620) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678293)

Do I read this right? 65dB sounds pretty horrendous to me. Surely fuel cells aren't supposed to sound that bad?

For this price, buy a lot of car batteries and a transformer. Charge it up, ensure it's topped up, and it'll go much cheaper without any CO poisioning or danger of blowing up and taking your office block with you. It's certainly kinder to the environment, and if you want to be extra good, get a green tariff from your electricity suppliers. Which you should have done anyway if you're going to get this picky over how clean it is.

Nice to see fuel cells turning up, but I honestly don't believe theat this is actually a commercial application of them. Overpriced and underspecced. Apart from the amount of power it supplies. But you could daisychain UPSes for half the price.

Widget

Re:SOUND (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2678387)

It's the same deal as with your computer, it (mostly) doesn't make the sound, but the cooling does. Burning hydrogen into water generates a whole lot of heat and there's no way of avoiding that, all you can do is have coolers to blow the heat away.

Re:SOUND (1)

z19752002 (533882) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678554)

I have to point out that a large bank of car (lead-acid) batteries is actually a serious explosion hazard due to the hydrogen gas emitted during charging. Such batteries are not particularly friendly to the environment (lead and sulfuric acid). Also, the Airgen is powered by a fuel cell so there is no CO.

Re:Specs (4, Informative)

blkros (304521) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678324)

You can put in this much solar capacity, or more, for this price. And guess what, no noise.

Re:Specs (1)

matrix29 (259235) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678411)

By my figuring I get the device actually pricing at $6246 and individual fuel canisters at $416.67 each.

OUCH!

I could by a gasoline-powered generator for far less and have it run continously. Heck a propane generator would still be cheaper and better without the need to run it once-a-month like a gasoline generator.

Re:Specs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2678436)

I think at this price it better have serial commuication and ethernet/SNMP UPS MIB support.
I've gotta beleive that the canisters don't cost a lot to recharge.

I wonder how long it takes to "start up"?

For certain critical applications, this might be a good product; batteries are not very reliable and don't store well. If I HAD to have something that absolutely HAD to work, this might not be bad.

Hydrogen storage? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2678163)

How do they store the hydrogen? It wasn't apparent from the page... the biggest hurdles in using hydrogen as a power source isn't the fuel cell but the storage of hydrogen. You need to keep it cold & pressurized if you want it in a liquid state, and gaseous state would require way too much space.

Re:Hydrogen storage? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2678179)

the biggest hurdles in using hydrogen as a power source isn't the fuel cell but the storage of hydrogen.
The danger of fire would be my biggest concern with the storage of hydrogen. My mother-in-law was smoking a cigarette and bent over to inspect her car battery which had been charging overnight. Whoosh! No more eyebrows! She's lucky she has any face left at all.

How fuel cells work (3, Informative)

fireboy1919 (257783) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678267)

Hydrogen, being the lightest element, doesn't go liquid until close to absolute zero at standard pressure. Even if you make the pressure dangerously high, the refrigeration will still keep it from being worth it to force it into the liquid state. An oxygen molecule is 16 times the size, but it still takes some work to make liquid oxygen, and the pressure would once again be dangerous.

How do they not take up too much space, as you said? Fuel cells are extremely efficient because rather than producing pneumatic energy from combustion which is then converted to electrical energy, they essentially make a battery out of them that fuses hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity. But they still don't usually store hydrogen or oxygen.

Fuel cells usually have a liquid forms - these are produced by dissolving or chemically combining hydrogen with less electropositive and negative elements (making an acid and a base), and then removing the hydrogen from this right before it is needed. Typically, the hydrogen is removed from an alcohol. Oxygen is just taken straight out of the air.

Here [howstuffworks.com] is a good summary of fuel cells, if you want to know more.

Re:Hydrogen storage? (1)

uppity_frodo (467888) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678462)

from the virtual tour it looks like the Hydrogen is stored in canisters. Each one costing around $420.00!

It also indicated that 9 canister would be required for 24 hours of operations.

FUCK IT! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2678166)

I didn't get fp! *Throws his windows pc out the window*

What slashdot don't want you to see [slashdot.org]

Fuel expensive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2678169)

I just wish the fuel wasn't quite so expensive.

You mean it uses hydrazine, or what? :-)

Ridiculous... (3, Informative)

s390 (33540) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678170)

at $7,500 for the "Starter Pack", $10K for 24 hours. A generic (Honda, or something) gasoline generator is only a hundred bucks or so, and gasoline is only about $1.25/gal here in the US now. Who does Coleman think might buy this stuff? Osama bin f-ing Ladin? (Just the thing to keep your satellite phone lit in the caves on those long winter nights in Nowhere, Afghanistan?) It's amazing that they'd even advertise this product at the prices they're quoting. Until they meet reality, they'll never sell these things.

Re:Ridiculous... (3, Insightful)

tap (18562) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678191)

But can you run that gasoline or diesel generator inside a machine room? You've got to somehow put it in a furnace room with ventilation or outside and run wiring. Building additions like that cost a lot of money, so this could be competitive. You also don't have to pay for the super expensive fuel unless the power goes out.

Re:Ridiculous... (3, Insightful)

leucadiadude (68989) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678491)

Ever hear of a new invention called an extension cord?

You put your generator outside (roof for example), and run the power cord inside the building. Power cord and the penetrations through walls for it are orders of magnitude cheaper than ventilation ducting.

Re:Ridiculous... (2)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678515)

That's fine for home use. You might be willing to put up with a jury-rigged solution like that for your home. Most companies I know would shell out for the infrastructure needed to make the generator a part of the whole power system. My concern would be with how this affected the humidity of the machine room, and whether or not any unreacted hydrogen made it out of the machine.

ten years ago ... (2)

Erris (531066) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678372)

Osama bin f-ing Ladin? (Just the thing to keep your satellite phone lit in the caves on those long winter nights in Nowhere, Afghanistan?)

Funny you should say that. I can imagine a similar conversation just twelve years ago.

Inventory clearance, Area 53, 1989

CLERK #1 (C1): Carbon composite toilet seats, 200?
CLERK #2(C@): Ship to Lockheed.
C1: Titanium hammers with gold anodized grips?
C2: Ship to General Dynamics.
C1: Portable fuel cells, 50, with starter pack, 500?
C2: Ship to OBL via Donkey Tain.
C1: What the fuck?
C2: Who cares, here are the lables.

Sold!

Re:Ridiculous... (1)

rjamestaylor (117847) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678564)

>Who does Coleman think might buy this stuff?

From the behaviour of their website, no one. Clicking on the "Starter Pack" link produced a "security alert" error (see below). Makes me think that they haven't paid much attention to the purchase flow of their site. Perhaps this is more a technology demonstration than a product offering?

=======

SecureIIS application firewall security alert

HTTP Request caused a security alert, please contact our web master if you are getting this alert in error.

What is SecureIIS
SecureIIS offers websites running Microsoft Internet Information Server a broad range of protection from common vulnerabilities, both known and unknown. Because SecureIIS does not protect against specific vulnerabilities, but classes of vulnerabilities, it allows for a much more far reaching layer of security.

For more information on SecureIIS, please visit http://www.eeye.com/SecureIIS/

eEye(TM) Digital Security - Vulnerability Is Over...

Posted Specs for Slashdot Effect (4, Informative)

NoWhere Man (68627) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678171)

Fuel Cell Generator
Creates computer-safe electricity from hydrogen and oxygen

Uninteruptible Power Supply
Seemless power transition keeps systems running smoothly

Surge Protector and Power Conditioner
Protects sensitive electronics from high voltage jolts and sags

MODEL NO. PMXXXXX
POWER 1000 Watts (Batteries Charged)
OVERLOAD CAPACITY 1600 VA for 2 Seconds
VOLTS 120 VAC +/-3%
FREQUENCY 60 Hertz
WAVEFORM Perfect Sine-Wave
NOISE 65 dba @ 1 Meter
FUEL CELL Ballard Nexa
FUEL 3 Hydrogen Fuel Canisters
RUN TIME @ 50% LOAD 6 Hours
SURGE PROTECTION 360 Joules
BATTERIES Sealed Lead Acid
WEIGHT (LESS CANISTERS) 101 lbs.
DIMENSIONS 27.3" x 15.8" x 19"

WARRANTY 1 Year

Really cool, but the fuel cells are expensive for only 6 hours of back up time @ 50%. I wonder what the unit itself will set you back.

Re:Posted Specs for Slashdot Effect (2)

s390 (33540) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678178)

A big marine battery with a DC/AC inverter and a trickle charger can match these specs (or close, anyway) for about 1/10th the price.

Re:Posted Specs for Slashdot Effect (2)

JanneM (7445) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678190)

Except, of course, if the fuel cell runs out, you just replace a fuel canister, whereas a backup battery has a very definite time limit before failing.

/Janne

Re:Posted Specs for Slashdot Effect (2)

s390 (33540) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678326)

Well, this is basically targeted to California power utility failures. These are much less likely now. The blackouts were 1/2 - 2 hours when they were imposed. This product is still too expensive and too late, I think. Want to tell me how you'd justify $15+K for a home website backup? This is just a far too ezpensive solution seeking a problem.

Re:Posted Specs for Slashdot Effect (0)

swaic (541592) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678278)


I couldn't agree more. Someone did a similar experiment and the results were amazing.

http://www.hardwareoc.com/apower1.php [hardwareoc.com]

Re:Posted Specs for Slashdot Effect (1)

Eyeing_Bitter_Nouns (538752) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678222)

>Really cool, but the fuel cells are expensive
>for only 6 hours of back up time @ 50%. I wonder
>what the unit itself will set you back.

Golly, I wonder...

AirGen Starter Pack
Model # PAXXXXX

Generate up to 8 hours of continuous, clean
electricity. Replacement canisters are just a
click or phone call away.

Includes:
AirGen
3 Fuel Canisters (shipped separately)
$7495.99

Read, then talk, [colemanpowermate.com]

*BSD is dying (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2678173)

Netcraft has confirmed: *BSD is dying

Yet another crippling bombshell hit the beleaguered *BSD community when recently IDC confirmed that *BSD accounts for less than a fraction of 1 percent of all servers. Coming on the heels of the latest Netcraft survey which plainly states that *BSD has lost more market share, this news serves to reinforce what we've known all along. *BSD is collapsing in complete disarray, as further exemplified by failing dead last [samag.com] in the recent Sys Admin comprehensive networking test.

You don't need to be a Kreskin [amdest.com] to predict *BSD's future. The hand writing is on the wall: *BSD faces a bleak future. In fact there won't be any future at all for *BSD because *BSD is dying. Things are looking very bad for *BSD. As many of us are already aware, *BSD continues to lose market share. Red ink flows like a river of blood. FreeBSD is the most endangered of them all, having lost 93% of its core developers.

Let's keep to the facts and look at the numbers.

OpenBSD leader Theo states that there are 7000 users of OpenBSD. How many users of NetBSD are there? Let's see. The number of OpenBSD versus NetBSD posts on Usenet is roughly in ratio of 5 to 1. Therefore there are about 7000/5 = 1400 NetBSD users. BSD/OS posts on Usenet are about half of the volume of NetBSD posts. Therefore there are about 700 users of BSD/OS. A recent article put FreeBSD at about 80 percent of the *BSD market. Therefore there are (7000+1400+700)*4 = 36400 FreeBSD users. This is consistent with the number of FreeBSD Usenet posts.

Due to the troubles of Walnut Creek, abysmal sales and so on, FreeBSD went out of business and was taken over by BSDI who sell another troubled OS. Now BSDI is also dead, its corpse turned over to yet another charnel house.

All major surveys show that *BSD has steadily declined in market share. *BSD is very sick and its long term survival prospects are very dim. If *BSD is to survive at all it wll be among OS hobbyist dabblers. *BSD continues to decay. Nothing short of a miracle could save it at this point in time. For all practical purposes, *BSD is dead.

Fact: *BSD is dead

no remote management? (5, Insightful)

Gunstick (312804) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678174)

It seems not to have a serial or ethernet port.
If you are not having it under your desk but in machine room like they show on one of the pics, you will never know if it's actually in good health.
Also I did not see an indication that it could tell a computer to shutdown before it runs out of fuel.

George

oh no! (0)

amed01 (540931) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678175)

from article: Indoor Use No deadly carbon monoxide emissions -- phew!

Great.... If you can afford it. (4, Funny)

stuffman64 (208233) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678177)

According to the website, it is $7495.99 for the generator and three fuel bottles. For the generator and nine bottles, the price jumps to $9995.99. Doing some basic math, the cost of a fuel comes out to about $416.66 per bottle, unless I am missing something major. Also, it claims the nine-bottle pack is a 24-hour supply. If you live on a non-Bill Gates budget, nobody can afford spending $3750 a day on fuel.

Granted, this baby can supply a constant kilowatt of power. But doing the math, you are paying $156.25 per kilowatt-hour. This has to be the most ludicrisly expensive method of power generation I know. You may as well hire 10,000 hampsters to run on a wheel to supply your backup power. I'm sure they can generate just as much power, not to mention the only fuel required is cheap dried food and water. But you do have to clean up all those hampster pellets...

Re:Great.... If you can afford it. (5, Insightful)

mmontour (2208) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678283)

Doing some basic math, the cost of a fuel comes out to about $416.66 per bottle, unless I am missing something major.

One thing you might be missing is that you are paying for two things with each bottle of fuel: the fuel itself, and the bottle that's holding it.
For example you might pay $416 for a new bottle of fuel, but get a $350 credit when you return the empty one (I couldn't find their actual price for fuel refills, but since they're using a metal-hydride storage technology, the cost of the cylinders will be significant).

Re:Great.... If you can afford it. (2, Interesting)

stuffman64 (208233) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678403)

Ok... that may seem reasonable. Except, if you look at the pic on the website, the container looks like a bottle of motor oil. Empty bottles of motor oil weigh in at about an ounce. The current going rate for gold is about $260 an ounce. I can not imagine a container costing more than its weight in gold. Of course, they can make it out of platinum, and I would be wrong...

Re:Great.... If you can afford it. (3, Insightful)

leucadiadude (68989) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678511)

I think you are comparing apples to oranges.

If the canister was simply priced by the weight of the raw materials of it's construction, that would in no way repay the cost of the research and development of the canister, the method to safely encapsulate the H2, and of course testing, testing, testing and certification for whatever government agency would concern itself. All this could easily be multiples of the simple cost of the raw materials - even it's weight in gold.

And all of that ignores the cost of mining, refining, and manufacturing the canister itself.

Re:Great.... If you can afford it. (1)

pivo (11957) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678533)

If you what the info movie on the site, the fuel cells look very different. I think they just didn't have a picure of the cells yet so the substituted a picture of a bottle of their camping stove fuel.

Re:Great.... If you can afford it. (2)

rjamestaylor (117847) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678579)

the container looks like a bottle of motor oil.

That must be a default icon for fuel on Coleman's site. Probably database generated on "product_type = 'fuel'". Yes, this is lame.

The neat-o animations (works in Mozilla 0.9.6 on Linux) depict the canisters as blue cylindrical tanks.

Re:Great.... If you can afford it. (1)

CuriousGeorge113 (47122) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678405)

But doing the math, you are paying $156.25 per kilowatt-hour. This has to be the most ludicrisly expensive method of power generation I know.

Unless you lived in California this past summer, then you mighta actually saved some money

hydrogen? or methanol.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2678187)

FUEL 3 Hydrogen Fuel Canisters

if you see the shape of the canisters and
know what kind of canisters it takes to store H2,
I doubt it's H2.

Very Nice (4, Informative)

pmc (40532) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678188)

Very good piece of technology. Could be a bit better: being able to swap hydrogen canisters on the fly to give unlimited life; or being able to plumb in a hydrogen supply. This gives the possibility of using solar power during the day the power a computer and generate hydrogen, and to run of the hydrogen at night in a closed cycle. This would be better than lead acid batteries as these do not have a particularly high power density.

The cost of the hydrogen is outrageous - you can buy a J cylinder (big) of hydrogen for about $100.

Despite what the article says there is no way that this is the first commercial fuel cell - see this page [ecoworld.com] for a manufacturer near you - but it is a great indication that they will soon be mainstream.

Re:Very Nice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2678319)

Read the article. It can swap cylinders on the fly. The difference in price between the starter and 24-hour kit is interesting. I know that bottles rated for hydrogen storage are expensive (but these are low pressure), since its advertised as a 24-hour supply, is some sort of adapter rack supplied to have all bottles connected. Wonder how much it costs to have the bottles filled.

Re:Very Nice (1)

RNLockwood (224353) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678455)

I doubt that you could plumb hydrogen to it from high pressure tanks because of safety concerns. I sure wouldn't want to work near a tank of hydrogen. In another post it was pointed out that the tanks are not just hollow containers and are quite expensive. Hence they would be returnable and refillable.

This looks like a reasonable solution to keep critical equipment running when the alternative is incredible numbers of lead acid batteries coupled with a generator placed, well, placed somewhere. Not for the home user.

I will wait for the fuel cells that are fueled by an alchol water mixture although a 1 kw unit might generate a little too much heat for an office.

Hmmm, I wonder how humid the room would get with a couple of them running.

Re:Very Nice (4, Informative)

pmc (40532) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678514)

I doubt that you could plumb hydrogen to it from high pressure tanks because of safety concerns.

You can definitely do this (some gas chromatographs are plumbed into a hydrogen supply for example).

I sure wouldn't want to work near a tank of hydrogen.

But you probably own a device that has a tank full of much more dangerous stuff - it's called a car.

Hydrogen in my house? (1)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678189)

...I dunno... if it's not safe to store gasoline cans or propane cylinders in my house, why would it be safe to store hydrogen in my house?

Under "safety" they don't really seem to address this issue except to say that "hydrogen is supplied through safe, low-pressure canisters."

And why does the unit have "sealed lead acid batteries" in it?

Re:Hydrogen in my house? (2, Informative)

cat_jesus (525334) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678219)

The hydrogen is actually stored in metal hydride pellets or powder. The metal hydride absorbs and desorbs the hydrogen and is non cumbustible. Gas and propane are more flammable than hydrogen and I have some propane in my basement already.

Now the trick here would be to have a system that can reinfuse the hydrogen into the pellets when power is available.

Cat

Re:Hydrogen in my house? (5, Informative)

pmc (40532) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678232)

why would it be safe to store hydrogen in my house?

You would be amazed at how safe hydrogen is. When I was working in reseach we had an outside gas bottle room which consisted of rows of bottles plumbed in and gas lines going to the relevent lab. Some of these were hydrogen and it was decided to fit a hydrogen sensor to detect leaks and shut it down automatically when the hydrogen concentation reached about 50% of the lower explosive limit.

Anyway, this was installed and seemed to be working. We then decided to test it by gently cracking open a hydrogen bottle under the sensor (which was on the ceiling) and watching the output. Nothing. We opened it a bit more - still nothing. Finally we opened up full and only then did the sensor start to register (but nowhere near the set point).

What was happening was that because the room was well ventilated, the hydrogen dispersed so quickly that it only just got high enough to show on the detector. Any leak apart from a catastrophic failure would be safe.

Propane, on the other hand, is a floor hugger and does not disperse very well. You also beed a lower concentration of it to go bang. So if this leaks it tends to hang about the cylinder and you quickly have a bomb waiting to go off.

Re:Hydrogen in my house? (1)

lightray (215185) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678240)

The reason why it is unsafe to store, for example, gasoline in your home is because the vapors from gasoline are heavy. They flow like an invisible fluid. If the vapor reaches an ignition source, it will catch fire/explode. The dangerous part is that the flame will follow the vapor trail *back to its source*, where there may be an entire tank of the stuff. Something like hydrogen disperses much more readily, thus alleviating the vapor trail hazard. However, as someone else pointed out, this thing probably doesn't use gaseous hydrogen.

And for everyone who's complaining about how expensive this fuel cell unit is... well, are you really surprised? Things that are new are always expensive! It takes awhile for technology to come down in price after it has been introduced to the commercial market.

Re:Hydrogen in my house? (5, Informative)

miniver (1839) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678251)

And why does the unit have "sealed lead acid batteries" in it?

The batteries are there to: (1) provide power for you (and the unit) while you're switching hydrogen canisters, and (2) depending upon the design, to even out the line voltage.

[Lecture Mode On]

There are two basic designs for UPSes: continuous and intermittent.

The UPSes that you buy for SOHO use are intermittent -- line voltage feeds a battery circuit (battery charger + batteries + inverter) and goes to a relay, which switches between the battery circuit and the normal line voltage. When line voltage goes off, the relay switches; when line voltage comes back, the relay switches back. While the relay is switching, there will be a short interruption in power, but most AC equipment can handle the (very short) interruption. This type of UPS will also have surge protectors built in to filter out high voltage and spikes, but can't do a lot for brownouts other than switch to batteries.

Continuous UPSes work differently -- the line voltage is used to charge the batteries, which run the inverter, which provides clean, uninterrupted power. No relays, no interruptions, no worry about power spikes or brownouts. Unfortunately, you're continuously charging and draining the batteries -- which significantly reduces the working life of the batteries. This type of UPS requires hot-swappable batteries, and is generally a lot more expensive to purchase and maintain (which explains the popularity of the intermittent UPSes).

[Lecture Mode Off]

From what I read on the site, the AirGen acts like an intermittent UPS -- when line voltage shuts off, the AirGen switches to generated power, and switches back when line voltage returns. The batteries are probably there just to provide the necessary power to start and maintain the generator, and to provide power while you're switch canisters. The AirGen *could* be a continuous UPS, with the fuel-cells supplementing line voltage for charging the batteries, but I doubt it -- everything they've posted on their site points towards the intermittent UPS design.

Re:Hydrogen in my house? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2678327)

> Are you moderating this down because you disagree with it,
> or because it doesn't add to the discussion?

If I had moderation points I'd moderate you
down because of that annoying comment.

then youd be a fucking moron (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2678453)

asshole.

Fuel cells don't start instantly (3, Informative)

wowbagger (69688) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678367)

It takes a fair bit of time for a fuel cell to start making power after you start the fuel feed. The batteries are there to a) allow the unit time to come up and b) to allow the unit to respond to surges like your monitor coming up.

Re:Hydrogen in my house? (2, Insightful)

tlk nnr (449342) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678332)

...I dunno... if it's not safe to store gasoline cans or propane cylinders in my house, why would it be safe to store hydrogen in my house?
Because hydrogen is lighter than air, and propane is heavier than air.
Suppose you have a tiny leak in the propane cylinder: the propane will accumulate in your cellar, it'll reach the explosive concentration (IIRC around 5 percent), and your house explodes when something creates a spark.
Hydrogen is lighter: it can't accumulate in the cellar, it'll leave through your roof. Therefore it won't reach the critical concentration and it can't cause a big explosion.

But that's only true if you don't have a huge leak in you hydrogen tank.
#insert picture of the exploding spaceshuttle.
According to their description they store the hydrogen bound to metal atoms.
Metal hydrides inside keep gas under low-pressure
That's the safest and most expensive way to store hydrogen. It's expensive because you need special metals, but it's absolutely safe because the metal only releases hydrogen at a very low rate - too low to create an explosive concentration.

Re:Hydrogen in my house? (1)

sallen (143567) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678362)

And why does the unit have "sealed lead acid batteries" in it?


The units probably has three functions within it. The batteries in the 'middle' of the process. The fuel cell is responsible for converting the fuel to electricity, probably low voltage DC current, the batteries are charged and kept charged (and provide electricity while changing cylinders), and an inverter to actually output the 110 AC current.

But the price is totally absurd. There are units in the works, not that far out, that will produce current for your entire house, that will run on natural gas (and I believe it's expected to expand that with propane or methanol units not long after)... they'll provide continuous power, a lot more of it, and not absurdly priced. I can't see anyone really interested in units at that price point.

This is not yet ready for consumers (2)

bogado (25959) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678196)

This technology if amazing and I am certainly that most of us will have something like this in the folloing 5-10 years. But it is very expensive now, and as someone here pointed out it can be replaced by a common no break for a fraction of the price.

Expensive (1)

NSupremo (161699) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678201)

You could hire someone to pedal a bike to generate electricity for less!

Let me get this straight... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2678203)

The worst terrorist attack in recorded history occurred in September, followed by a deadly and bloody WAR against the Islamic faith (against the holiest of Muslim clerics and scholars, the beloved Taliban leaders of the Afghanistan people) and now we're struggling to bring order to Afghanistan with the establishment of an interim government, and you people have the gall to be discussing personal fuel cells???? My *god*, people, GET SOME PRIORITIES! The bodies of the thousands of innocent civilians who died (and will die) in these unprecedented events could give a good god damn about fuel cells, your childish Lego models, your nerf toy guns and whining about the lack of a "fun" workplace, your Everquest/Diablo/D&D fixation, the latest Cowboy Bebop rerun, or any of the other ways you are "getting on with your life" (here's a hint: watching Cowboy Bebop in your jammies and eating a bowl of Shreddies is *not* "getting on with your life"). The souls of the victims are watching in horror as you people squander your finite, precious time on this earth playing video games! You people disgust me!

Why just H2? (3, Insightful)

hughk (248126) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678204)

Why just hydrogen? Propane/butane or methane would be much better due to their availability. You can get butane almost everywhere. Propane is well known and there is plenty of tank technology for it and methane is for many people, now on tap, being the main component of natural gas.

Re:Why just H2? (1)

Silver222 (452093) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678223)

I know it's late, but I had to reread this comment a few times to figure this out:

"methane is for many people, now on tap, being the main component of natural gas."

If you can come up with one that burns methane...I've got a friend who could keep the thing running indefinitely on 1 serving of Mexican food a day.

Re:Why just H2? (2)

Minupla (62455) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678270)

Because H2 is the most abundant element in the universe, and much more conviently obtainable then methane or propane. Just stick a couple of leads into some water and apply electricity. More importantly, H2 is not likely to end up creating CO and killing your systems staff, which can get expensive :). (Remember, any exhaust from this thing is being vented to room atmosphere, so it has to be carbon based lifeform compliant.)

Re:Why just H2? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2678321)

>H2 is the most abundant element in the universe
But it's not efficient to produce just the hydrogen.

>Just stick a couple of leads into some water and apply electricity
Sure, apply electricity to create H2, to produce Fuel, to create electricity. Hmmm, this is a winning technology!

There needs to be an abundant supply of Hydrogen so the price will drop. I don't see that happening for a long time.

Re:Why just H2? (2)

mmontour (2208) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678296)

You'd lose the "No carbon monoxide; safe to run indoors" claim if you were running on a hydrocarbon fuel. Also you'd need to add the equipment to convert the hydrocarbon fuel into hydrogen (and waste CO2), so the initial cost of the device would be higher. It would make sense for a continuous-duty device or a vehicle, but for standby UPS applications I can see the logic of just using hydrogen.

Re:Why just H2? (2)

Tony Hammitt (73675) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678538)

Propane, butane or any other hydrocarbon would require ventilation for the generated CO2, which this aviods by just running on hydrogen. Its only waste products are heat and water. It's still insanely, ludicrously expensive.

Re:Why just H2? (2)

sohp (22984) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678573)

The whole idea of fuel cell technology is that hydrogen is cheap, clean, and renewable. Petroleum products like propane are limited, non-renewable resources. As they become more scarce and harder to extract, prices will continue to rise. H2 can made cheaply from seawater and solar cells. Burning hydrocarbons generates greenhouse gases and other pollutants -- bad enough outside, completely unacceptable inside -- too much CO2 or worse CO and you're down for the count.

Here's a bit on the basic science of the technology: What is a Fuel Cell? [ttcorp.com]

As an aside, is it just me or does anyone else get a "SecureIIS application firewall security alert" on this animation [colemanpowermate.com] URL?

Kudos to Coleman (3, Interesting)

imrdkl (302224) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678212)

As a UPS, this thing could probably be matched (6hr/500w) by a few more lead/acid batteries under your desk. The cool thing is that you can buy these now just like any other (very expensive) generator. Coleman has invested the capital to make clean power available, and I for one hope they find a way to make it extremely profitable. (and somewhat more affordable)

Expensive? (1, Interesting)

r1_unknown (542289) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678215)

The prohibitive cost of the generater itself - $6245.00 without fuel - and the cost of fuel will deter most people from owning one. What about the cost to clean one up? I know the Coleman advert doesn't really discuss it, but what if the (flammable / volatile) hydrogen is no longer safely contained in the 'low-pressure' containers? Filling a room with hydrogen is roughly the equivalent of filling the room with oxygen - it will combust (see references to the Hindenburg). While all this fuel-cell development is great for the environment / atmosphere / economy, I am not sure the consumer-level products are ready for distro... Interesting aside: on the Coleman webpage, you can (almost) order refills of the canisters - there is no price, no weight, and no canister dimensions...

Re:Expensive? (2, Informative)

Eyeing_Bitter_Nouns (538752) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678226)

>Filling a room with hydrogen is roughly >the equivalent of filling the room with oxygen - >it will combust (see references to the >Hindenburg).

Um, except for the fact that oxygen isn't actually flammable.

Re:Expensive? (1)

pmc (40532) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678263)

Um, except for the fact that oxygen isn't actually flammable

A classic experiment that I saw at the pyromaniacs lecture when I was at university was to burn oxygen. Yeah - we all went "huh?!" too. What the nutte^Wlecturer did was fill a large glass tube with hydrogen and light top of it (so we had a huge hydrogen flame from the top) and then introduce oxygen at the bottom of it so there was a mini-flame in the large tube that was burning oxygen.

The point is that if you lived in a hydrogen atmosphere you would consider oxygen very flammable indeed.

Classic lecture - everyone was just about deaf leaving it. There are hours of fun to be had with liquid oxygen, not to mention what you can do with aluminium, rust and a little magnesium.

Re:Expensive? (1)

Teun (17872) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678315)

roughly >the equivalent
roughly is the key, in our usual room there are plenty of combustibles that we don't see as such until we introduce a large % of Oxygen.
Horrible example is the Apollo-1 fire on January 27, 1967.

Re:Expensive? (5, Informative)

lightray (215185) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678259)

Although the Hindenburg disaster is the posterchild for the flammability and hence perceived danger of Hydrogen, you might want to read ``Hydrogen Didn't Cause Hindenburg Fire'' [ucla.edu]

Re:Expensive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2678369)

The Hindenburg disaster is pure oil company propaganda. Hmm, let's associate a clean burning fuel with Nazis, a lame form of transportation, and a huge explosion, and then pound it into everyone's heads.

Re:Expensive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2678578)

Uh, dude? The Nazis invented hydrogen.

In case of hydrogen leak... (3, Informative)

Max Hyre (1974) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678371)

You ask
[W]hat if the (flammable / volatile) hydrogen is no longer safely contained in the 'low-pressure' containers?

If you really wanna know, their advice (from this fascinating page [colemanpowermate.com] is:

Problem: Hydrogen sensor has detected a fuel leak. The AirGen will cease operation immediately.

Action Required:

Move mode switch to MANUAL position, depress reset button, open doors and windows in the vicinity and evacuate the area. Call Customer Service at 1-800-445-1805 for further instructions.

Anyone remember the Bloom County strip in which the black genius kid asks his parents to ``Move away from the basement'' while he tests his nuclear experiment? When asked ``How far?'', he suggests New Jersey.

Is this released? (3, Insightful)

Piquan (49943) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678234)

Aspects of this page indicate it's not yet released. For instance, lots of stuff is XX'd out; and if you click on "Fuel Cells" in the nav bar, you get a notice implying that the product is not yet ready.

Is it possible that this is not the final pricing? It could be an early number, could be the very top (so nobody claims "false advertising" if they stumble across it later, when they set the real price), could be misinformation for competitors, whatever.

Oh, nobody's mentioned numbers yet, but to get a single data point, you can get an APC's Matrix 3000XR [apc.com] (which sustains 500kW for about 5:15, and is in many ways more capable-- higher peak, for instance-- but obviously-- can't be refueled during a power outage). It's listed at $3750 US.

Re:Is this released? (2)

Detritus (11846) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678311)

500 kW?

I think you are off by a few orders of magnitude.

Simple - don't use their fuel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2678235)

Just because you buy a car from a manufacturer owned by Exxon doesn't mean you'd have to buy your gas there. Same with this. You could manufacture your own fuel for this baby with some simple electrolysis.

what you have to realize (0, Insightful)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678236)

many of you are complaining of the cost of a fuel canister (~415$ per). what you have to realize is that consumer demand for hydrogen fuel is very _LOW_. that most likely means consumer supply is very _HIGH_. high school economics class tells us that the cost is also going to be very _HIGH_ as a result. when demand becomes _HIGH_, the price becomes _LOW_. hydrogen will probably never become as cheap as propane (2-3$/quart, ~10$ gal), but in the future, your 1Kw generator's fuel costs will decline sharply. there's always a price for being an early adopter.

Re:what you have to realize (2, Informative)

Piquan (49943) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678255)

Er... Check your high school economics textbook again.

High supply + low demand = surplus, which means lower prices. Assuming a constant supply, when demand goes up, prices increase. (Think about it for a minute, and it makes sense.)

To simplify to HS economics terms, we're looking at a low supply in this market. We don't know the specs of the H2 canisters, so they may be unique. Also, the users of this are probably a separate market than those who know where to get cheap H2, so it's effectively a low supply market, meaning high prices.

Of course, if demand increases, and the free market works right, then supply will increase to meet it (since H2 is not a scarce resource). That means competition, which means lower prices.

Re:what you have to realize (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2678334)

Yeah you are all messed up with your economics! Why dont you go back to school dumbass

Listerine Cures Troll-Breath (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2678239)

Trolling slashdot may be fun, but your oral health should still come first. Bad breath can lead to serious health problems, not to mention monitor damage. Thankfully, you can take use the 20 second formkeys delay to your benefit! Next time you're going for frost pist, take a swig of Listerine and swish it in your mouth... When the stinging becomes unbearable, spit (in a bowl or bucket, not on your computer) and click post - works everytime! You'll get frost pist and have minty fresh breath! Horay for Listerine and the formkeys delay!

Green Bait (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2678256)

what they DON'T tell you is it probably takes 10kwh of good ol' off the grid polluting fossile fuel energy back at the factory to make 1 Kwh of nice clean green marketroid sucker bait fuel for the wealthy tree hugging crowd. The most effecient (and hence less polluting) energy is the most direct - the more steps involved the more loss there is during the conversion. Untill they can drill for or dig up plentiful supplies of hydrogen in the first place your just using even *more* oil/coal/gas/plutonium to create the illusion of enviro-friendly power. (not to mention lining the pockets of the illusionists).

Re:Green Bait (2, Interesting)

andykuan (522434) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678355)

I especially can't stand the comment that these fuel cells are powered by "two of the most abundant elements". Please. That implies that you can acquire H2 in much the same way you can drill for oil (the process of which, incidentally, still requires massive inputs of energy). Unless they're breaking H2O with solar power, there's some oil or coal being burnt up in order to generate the H2.

What I think is sad is that the journalists covering this stuff and the public officials setting environmental policy are just as guilty of this energy-source-misdirection as the marketers of the technology are. How many times have we heard that electric cars are 100% environmentally friendly and will solve all of our pollution problems? Where do these people think electricity comes from?

Now if someone will merge solar power into the equation, then we'd be on to something. If Coleman provided a means to refuel those H2 canisters yourself you could hypothetically power the refueling device with a solar array. Now THAT would be environmentally friendly.

Re:Green Bait (1)

egor duda (36055) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678429)

Moreover, everyone knows that two most common elements in the universe is a hydrogen and stupidity. Since they're specially mentioning the former, i can't but assume they're also implying the latter ;-)

Re:Green Bait (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2678457)

"I especially can't stand the comment that these fuel cells are powered by "two of the most abundant elements". Please. That implies that you can acquire H2 in much the same way you can drill for oil (the process of which, incidentally, still requires massive inputs of energy). Unless they're breaking H2O with solar power, there's some oil or coal being burnt up in order to generate the H2."

Wow talk about a US centric vision there. Some of us have hydroelectric, windpowered, geothermal, solar powered and nuclear production capacity. I will concede that at the price they are charging for fuel, they had better be using one of those methods rather than coal or gas.

"If Coleman provided a means to refuel those H2 canisters yourself you could hypothetically power the refueling device with a solar array. Now THAT would be environmentally friendly."

And far more expensive AND less safe. Thus I'd rather have them be the keepers of the canisters producing them at a lower cost with environmental assurances.

Re:Green Bait (2)

RussGarrett (90459) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678474)

No they're not 100% environmentally friendly, and the fact is Hydrogen *will* be obtained from fossil fuels, but it is much more environmentally friendly to burn all the fossil fuels centrally (i.e. in power stations, which have much more carefully-controlled emmission standards), than it is to ship fuel out to household generators, or whatever, which are inherently less efficient than larger power stations.

Also, when the relevant authorites take it upon themselves to do something about greenhouse gas emmissions , the switch to alternative power is much more cost-effective and easy if it's done centrally.

On a related note, and slashdot has covered this before, GE is working on a home fuel cell which uses the methane from natural gas:

http://www.gepower.com/dhtml/distributed_power/e n_ us/microgen/index.jsp/

It's potentially much more interesting and cleaner (not to mention cheaper) than the coleman cell.

Snakeoil (0, Troll)

gandalf_grey (93942) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678264)

Hmmmmm. I wonder if the fuel is just water that they are selling at > $400.00 a pop?

Laugh, it's funny.

Re:Snakeoil (1)

scorcherer (325559) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678543)

I wonder if the fuel is just water that they are selling at > $400.00 a pop?

They're burning a combination of hydrogen and oxygen. 'Nuff said.

Five little words from History (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2678301)

'Houston we have a problem'. Just kidding, but that problem was caused by a fuel cell burning H & O2 together. We generated the gasses by electrolysis back in chemistry classes long before Apollo 13 and setoff nice little burps in the class by introducing flame to canisters holding the hydrogen gas just to watch water vapor form on the sides. And to make a nice little bang that stirred things up in the halls.

Re:Five little words from History (1)

cmat (152027) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678352)

Apollo 13 SM explosion: caused by a malfunctioning (or triggered, can't remember exactly) relay. The only thing the fuel cells had abything to do with the explosion was being on the same ship.

Cheers,
Chris

I need this to charge the batteries on my Ginger (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2678306)

What a gas... put a tow sled on Ginger, use it to carry the fuel cell and go coast to coast without stopping except for burgers at Checkers [Gotta eat] and potty breaks [Gotta poo after the burgers]... who'll be the first?

Is it the fuel that's expensive? (3, Insightful)

mr.e (182543) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678314)

Everyone seems to be assuming that the because the price per cannister works out high the fuel is really expensive. I would have thought they would have a similar system to calor gas (bottles propane/butane) where the cannister is more expensive than the fuel _but_ is reusable, so if you want 9 you pay a lot (for the 9 bottles) after that the fuel is cheap.
I guess we'll wait and see.

Canisters are expensive, not fuel... (3, Insightful)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678322)

It's the tanks to hold the high pressure hydrogen while being safe enough to be kept indoors that are expensive. The hydrogen is cheap...

This isn't bad for something that can be used indoors. It's also especially good for extreme environments where it's too cold outside for a gas powered generator to start in the winter.

Handicap access (2, Funny)

10.0.0.1 (153985) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678344)

"Perfect signwave electricity to protect sensitive electronics"

This must be so that deaf people can use the electricity, too.

Not even close to being the first (3, Interesting)

inicom (81356) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678471)

GE has been selling their fuel cell systems for over a year. Sizes from whole house residential systems to commercial building-sized units.

They use propane (or natural gas?) and extract the hydrogen from there. Still have the problem of storage, but at least propane/natural gas storage is common and suppliers abound.

APC sells UPSes for a whole lot less (1)

tdyson (530675) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678496)

A quick pop over to APC shows that a Smart-UPS 1000 XL + (1)UXBP24 Battery Unit will have similar performance and only cost $1,600. Can you say, "Not ready for prime time."?

think mainframes vs. PC's (2, Insightful)

mlas (165698) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678506)

Of course, this thing is expensive, seemingly inefficient, and probably impractical... for now. But keep in mind a few things:

First of all, Ballard (the company that makes the fuel cell in this thing) has said all along that they're going to have the really practical consumer devices in the market in 2005 (I think it's in their annual report [ballard.com] , if memory serves). I think anything you see out there earlier is going to be a test product to smooth out the edges in production.

The infrastructure to support hydrogen fuel (the price of those canisters, for example) is one of the things that needs to be smoothed out as well. The price of fuel should come WAY down with centralized production.

Ballard fuel cells can also run on other fuels (methanol, for one) but at a reduced efficiency and with a slight hydrocarbon emission (still something on the order of 3-5% of what comes out of a combustion engine, but enough that you couldn't run one in a closed room).

Yes, hydrogen fuel takes energy to produce, but so does fossil fuel extraction and then once you've got, say, gasoline, it gets burned inefficiently and with lotsa nasty waste products. I know cars seem to be getting more efficient all the time, but every car I know of requires a separate system to keep the engine cool (read: waste heat) and I wouldn't put my lips on a tailpipe. Fuel cells do their thing at 75-80 degrees F, and when hydrogen-fueled, the only output is distilled H20. That's it.

Once practical devices come to market , they'll have the potential of decentralizing power, with that huge advantage of EFFICIENCY. And aside from the abovementioned advantages, don't forget to factor in power loss from transmission through wires. A world where fuel cells are practical everyday devices is nothing less than a PC revolution for power: power plants for all! Think an power Gnutella as opposed to the power grid. After all, I'm sure some folks were saying "Two thousand dollars for 64K of RAM? These things'll never catch on" twenty years ago...

other sources of fuel cell energy... (2, Informative)

john_uy (187459) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678537)


i did some research years ago about fuel cells. the viable solution is to buy the fuel cell generator that provides 200kwatts from UTC Fuel Cells [utcfuelcells.com] .

this is actually a cool device that allows source from methane or natural gas.

they also have numerous installations made.

although at this time, i am not sure if there are other companies that have created generators made from fuel cells.

$$$ is why they haven't been adopted... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2678549)

No and I don't mean oil companies trying to make their last bit of profit. Everything happens in the world because of the American market. The whole of pathetic Europe isn't going to make fuel cells popular. It's going to take the American consumer and a combination of need and a reasonable price before these are viable. They still just cost to much and frankly seem to be ready yet.

Firewall (1)

RedWolves2 (84305) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678557)

Nice firewall error when you go to there site now.

Hmmm.... security alert? (1, Offtopic)

Telek (410366) | more than 12 years ago | (#2678561)


SecureIIS application firewall security alert

HTTP Request caused a security alert, please contact our web master if you are getting this alert in error.

---

What is SecureIIS
SecureIIS offers websites running Microsoft Internet Information Server a broad range of protection from common vulnerabilities, both known and unknown. Because SecureIIS does not protect against specific vulnerabilities, but classes of vulnerabilities, it allows for a much more far reaching layer of security.


Is it possible that if HTTP_REFER == "www.slashdot.org" then they classify that as a "potential security risk"? This is Microsoft software after all ... ;P
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