The residential fuel cell is easily installed and connects to existing natural gas infrastructure. The GEI-X5 Fuel Cell for residential extract hydrogen natural gas or propane.
Fuel cells are ideal for power generation, either to provide supplemental power and backup assurance. It can be installed as a generator for on-site service in areas that are inaccessible by power lines. The fuel cells operate silently and reduces noise pollution, air pollution and waste heat from a fuel cell can be used to provide hot water or space heating for a home.
Residential fuel cell systems offer numerous ecological advantages compared to current utility power production. The operation of the fuel cell itself combines hydrogen and air with water. Fuel processing units, also called reformers, are able to convert various fuels into useful hydrogen. Ideally, CO2 and water are the only by-products of this reforming process.
Although CO2 is considered a greenhouse gas, the almost doubled fuel cell electrical efficiency means that it produces only about half the greenhouse gases of other non-renewable forms of electrical generation. Utilization of waste heat for water or space heating even further reduces the relative amount of CO2 emissions. Traditional internal and external combustion engines also make emissions that create smog and acid rain. Low noise profile is another environmental advantage. A fuel cell system is typically less than one fourth as loud as a comparably sized gas or diesel generator, so it has a minimal impact on the quiet of a rural setting.
Although the fuel cell is the heart of the device, there are other important components that make up a residential fuel cell system. First, the fuel processor must convert usable fuel into nearly pure hydrogen for use by the fuel cell stack. Next, the fuel cell stack converts the supplied hydrogen into direct current electrical power. Finally, as in most renewable energy systems, power must be stored and conditioned for consumption, using batteries and a DC-AC inverter.
The job of the fuel processor is to take an available fuel (i.e. natural gas, propane, bio-fuels, and diesel) and extract hydrogen of sufficient purity and quantity necessary to allow the fuel cell to provide the desired electrical output power. At the same time, it should eliminate the undesirable emission by-products of the conversion process. The fuel processor is what really makes residential fuel cell systems practical since fuel cells require hydrogen to operate. Typically this hydrogen enriched fuel stream must contain CO concentrations of no greater than 50 parts per million (PPM) with less than 10 ppm desirable for traditional low-temperature Polymer Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cells that operate at 80C.
Conversely, the GEI advanced high-temperature PEM (HTPEM) fuel cell operates at 160C and can tolerate up to 30,000 PPM CO concentrations. HTPEM fuel cell electric power generators not only significantly reduce the fuel processor complexity and cost, but also increase overall system efficiency since high temperature heat is used for more effective home heating and also provide energy to drive the fuel reforming process.