Sep 24, 2009 | 10
Editor's Note: A team of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute students are traveling up New York's Hudson River this week on the New Clermont, a 6.7-meter boat outfitted with a pair of 2.2-kilowatt hydrogen fuel cells to power the boat's motor. Their journey began September 21 from Manhattan's Pier 84 and will cover 240 kilometers (at a projected speed of 8 kilometers per hour). After making several stops along the way, the crew expects to arrive back at Rensselaer Polytech's campus in Troy, N.Y., on September 25. This is the third of Scientific American.com's blogs chronicling this expedition, called the New Clermont Project.
The New Clermont Project crew is learning valuable lessons about what it will take to make hydrogen power not only possible but practical as well. After losing both hydrogen fuel-cell-powered boat motors Tuesday, the New Clermont spent Wednesday docked in Beacon, N.Y., while the Rensselaer students figured out what went wrong.
Sep 23, 2009 | 4
Editor's Note: A team of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute students are traveling up New York's Hudson River this week on the New Clermont, a 6.7-meter boat outfitted with a pair of 2.2-kilowatt hydrogen fuel cells to power the boat's motor. Their journey began September 21 from Manhattan's Pier 84 and will cover 240 kilometers (at a projected speed of 8 kilometers per hour). After making several stops along the way, the crew expects to arrive back at Rensselaer Polytech's campus in Troy, N.Y., on September 25. This is the second of Scientific American.com's blogs chronicling this expedition, called the New Clermont Project.
New Clermont Project team members Jenn Gagner and Jason Kumnick took the helm of the New Clermont for the second leg of the journey between Manhattan and Troy, N.Y. It was rough going for Gagner, a Rensselaer materials science and engineering grad student, and Kumnick, a Rensselaer doctoral student studying decarburization and workability of hardened steels, as the New Clermont suffered repeatedly from engine problems while traveling from Ossining, N.Y., farther up the Hudson to Beacon.
Aug 7, 2009 | 15
For Toyota, it's not just about hybrids (that is, the Prius). Yesterday, the company announced the results of a sunny 331-mile jaunt in Southern California from Torrance to Santa Monica and back again at the end of June. Toyota engineers, accompanied by U.S. government partners, coaxed 68 miles per kilogram of hydrogen out of the Toyota Highlander Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicle (FCHV-adv). That's a range of 431 miles on a single tank at a fuel cost estimated at $2.50 per 68 miles (for hydrogen produced from natural gas).
Jun 30, 2009
NASA will refill space shuttle Endeavour's external fuel tank tomorrow morning to test whether the leak that twice scrubbed the orbiter's launch earlier this month has been properly repaired.
The refueling is scheduled to commence at 7:00 A.M. (Eastern Daylight Time), and Florida Today reports that the tank will reach 98 percent capacity, the level at which leaks arose during launch preparations, between 9:00 and 9:15 A.M.
NASA passed on launch opportunities June 13 and June 17 after hydrogen leaks were discovered at the launch pad. The culprit was the Ground Umbilical Carrier Plate, which is where the external fuel tank connects to a venting system that allows excess hydrogen to be carried away from the orbiter.
Jun 17, 2009 | 1
Another hydrogen leak will keep the space shuttle Endeavour's crew on the ground for another month while NASA investigates the problem. The space agency scrubbed today's scheduled launch early this morning when a gaseous hydrogen leak was detected at the same location where a similar leak halted the shuttle's original June 13 launch.
"We're going to step back and figure out what the problem is and go fix it," Deputy Space Shuttle Program Manager LeRoy Cain said in a statement. Even if all goes well, NASA expects the shuttle to launch no earlier than July 11.
NASA engineers found the leak at the Ground Umbilical Carrier Plate (GUCP), which is the vent to the launch pad and the flare stack (or elevated chimney) where the vented hydrogen is burned off. (For pictures of what the GUCP looks like, visit GalaxyWire.net.) The venting system (pdf), located outside the shuttle's external fuel tank, is designed to carry excess hydrogen safely away from the launch pad as the Endeavor blasts off. During launch, the external fuel tank supplies the shuttle's main engines with liquid oxygen and hydrogen propellants.
Jun 15, 2009 | 2
As NASA engineers ponder how the shuttle Endeavor's gaseous hydrogen venting system started leaking and delayed the spacecraft's launch, the agency said it will try to put the shuttle in orbit on Wednesday at 5:40 a.m. ET. The shuttle's problems likewise push the launch of the moon-probing Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) and Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) back at least one day, to Thursday, June 18.
NASA believes a seal on the external fuel tank that was misaligned when it was coupled to one of the shuttle's engines caused the leak, NASA Shuttle Test Director Stephen Payne, said today during a press conference. "Our teams have been working very hard over the last couple of days to get this piece of equipment fixed," he said, adding, however, that the space agency was unsure of what's causing the misalignment.
May 8, 2009 | 43
In the newly released budget, the U.S. Department of Energy cuts $100 million from the hydrogen fuel cell program in fiscal year 2010 and transforms its name to "fuel cell technologies." Hydrogen, of course, is just the fuel of a fuel cell—a device that recombines hydrogen and oxygen to produce water and electrical current. Still, the name change distances the Obama administration from the "hydrogen economy" goals of their predecessors.
"We asked ourselves, 'Is it likely in the next 10 or 15, 20 years that we will convert to a hydrogen car economy?' The answer, we felt, was 'No,'" said energy secretary Steven Chu in a briefing on the budget for reporters yesterday, citing the need for better fuel cells and a near complete lack of infrastructure.
Mar 10, 2009 | 2
CAMBRIDGE, MASS.—By 2030, the people of the world will be driving as many as two billion cars—up from 700 million today—according to John Viera, director of sustainable business strategies for Ford Motor Company. Whether those cars are plug-in hybrids, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles or just supremely efficient internal combustion engines, the economic, environmental and social impacts will be huge—from lithium mining in Bolivia to road rage in China.
Oct 21, 2008
The crux of the global warming crisis is how to reduce energy-related carbon dioxide emissions while keeping the lights on. A new In-Depth Report by ScientificAmerican.com takes a look at future technologies that might help.
One option is to build wind farms off shore, where stronger breezes can generate more energy than sites on or near shore and turbines won't block residents' ocean views. Leasing the outer continental shelf to offshore wind farms could generate nearly 1,000 gigawatts — slightly more than the country's current electrical capacity, according to a piece by Emily Waltz.
Another possibility is geothermal power, electricity generated by the Earth's own heat. Iceland, where nearly 90 percent of homes are heated with geothermal power and residents would pay an estimated five times more if they used traditional fossil fuels, is at the leading edge of the technology, exporting its expertise to Nevada, Germany and China.
Oct 2, 2008 | 1
The German Aerospace Center (aka DLR) Tuesday demonstrated the world's first hydrogen fuel cell only powered airplane, which took off, flew and then landed in Stuttgart, Germany. This was the first time such an aircraft was able to take off using the energy from fuel cells.
The single-prop Antares DLR-H2 glider (developed by DLR and Lange Aviation GmbH) was powered by a BASF high-temperature polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cell, which fed its electrical output to the battery pack that turned the electric motor of the propeller. Two external pods that house the fuel cell system and the hydrogen tanks ride beneath the glider's wings. The PEM fuel cell—which operates at 248 to 356 degrees Fahrenheit (120 to 180 degrees Celsius)—is designed to efficiently burn hydrogen less pure than that needed by lower-temperature fuel cells.
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