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ABOUT HYDROGEN

  • Where do you get the hydrogen from?
    Hydrogen is one of the most abundant elements on earth, but it is rarely found by itself in a natural state. It is an odourless, colourless gas. The gas we use is currently manufactured by BOC Ltd by steam reforming natural gas. The gas is compressed to 300 bar and contained in portable G20 cylinders, similar in size to a 13kg LPG cylinder.
  • Is hydrogen safe?
    Used correctly hydrogen is as safe as any other fuel. It is a very bouyant gas, so any that is released will escape upwards and disperse. It can be explosive if released in a confined space. That is why all our equipment is roof mounted and designed for good ventilation.
  • Is it zero carbon?
    Not yet. Most hydrogen in the UK is currently made from natural gas, which is a fossil fuel. However, there are a few companies who are making "green" hydrogen, made by electrolysis of water using renewable power. The UK Government is supporting the expansion of green hydrogen over the next few years as more renewable power becomes available. We are working with others on developing alternative sources of green hydrogen.
  • Is it expensive?
    Currently hydrogen is about 8 x the price of petrol per kWh of power produced. However, that is not the whole story because generators are not a very efficient means of charging batteries. The battery charger will adjust the current drawn to "float" charge the batteries, reducing the generator load to a point where its efficiency is poor. Most people stop charging their batteries with a generator after a few hours. Over time this will shorten the life of the batteries. Ultimately the answer depends on how you value the convenience and other benefits of fuel cell derived power. There are plans for hydrogen to fall in price dramatically in the next few years, with predictions it will become cheaper than petrol and diesel per kWh by 2030. As early adopters we will create the demand that will hasten this happening. Hydrogen may not be cheap now, but it will be cheaper in the future.
  • Can I drive the boat with hydrogen power?
    It will be possible to power boats with hydrogen fuel cells, but two things need to happen. There needs to be canal-side filling stations that supply hydrogen gas, and it needs to be cheaper. We do domestic power now, because that is what we can do now, with portable G20 gas cylinders. In the future we will do boat power, taking us along the (tow) path to zero carbon emission boating.
  • So what are the benefits?
    Hydrogen fuel cells are near silent and can be set to operate automatically. They produce no pollution at point of use, and being mostly solid-state, they have few moving parts. Their efficiency does not vary much with load, and they have low internal losses, meaning they can be left on if needed without using much fuel.

There is a lot of investment in hydrogen at the moment.  But why all the interest in a colourless, odourless gas?  Hydrogen has a big role to play in moving society away from carbon-based fuels.  Hydrogen can be used to store intermittent renewable power from solar and wind, helping us to reach nett zero carbon goals. Here we answer some commonly asked questions about hydrogen, the gas that our fuel cell power system relies upon. 

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