Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Fuel cell musings

Being a climate change ‘denier’ does not mean one is blind to the world and it’s workings. To be honest the opposite is more accurate. I see the insanity and repeated panics unravel before my startled eyes and can only stare gape mouthed in amazement at the self-delusion going on in the world. It seems that some folk only operate when they’re having the knickers scared off them unnecessarily. More sinister are those doing the scaring. They are the people we need to examine most closely and believe least.

Me, I don’t like being worried all the time. A constant level of extreme anxiety has long-term health implications, which turn the fatal disease called life into a less than pleasant experience. Do we have to pass the time between birth and death in a persistent state of unhappiness? Bollocks to that. I may be a grumpy old cove, but under this stoic crusty exterior beats the heart of a playful, childlike, psychopathic monster. Well, not really, but the playful thing is true enough. Life should not be a veil of tears, and anyone who tells you otherwise is a hound, a bastard and a liar.

For myself, I like to take a good long look at any problematic situation, then see what I can do towards fixing it or ameliorating its effects. My first question however is always; how much of a problem is it? Followed quickly by; can I adapt and develop workarounds? How practical are my solutions? To argue by analogy; is there really a bear in my yard? Is he preventing me going about my daily business? If so, how can I get him to leave? Will he just wander off when he gets bored if I wait long enough? Can I borrow my neighbours shotgun should the need arise? What will I say to the Wildlife Officer when he finds me the possessor of a new bearskin rug?

Bearing this life attitude in mind, Wife and I have long held the ambition of disappearing out into the boonies to create our own little paradise far from the madding crowd and I believe this is eminently possible without giving up the comforts of technology like heat and light. A fuel cell solution seems a far more workable solution than inefficient Solar or Wind power.

Put succinctly; from hard experience I know what it is like to be cold, miserable and hungry and you can stuff that life experience where the sun shineth not. Just because some bozo politicians (and intellectually challenged followers) think global Armageddon will occur because Earth got a little warmer for a few decades, and that we as a species were / are wholly at fault, I see no good reasons to be hitched to their economic kamikaze wagon and give up stuff I like on their control freak agenda. In the words of the prophet, fuck that for a game of soldiers.

There is also a body of opinion that says because of the coming energy crisis we should all embrace vegetarianism. No thanks say I, vegetarianism is a flaccid, lifeless creed, and I prefer good old stick to your ribs meat stews cuisine as well as lighter foods when it is warmer. A healthy diet is a mixed diet, and as for low fat, has anyone ever heard of fat-soluble vitamins? Although you don’t need much Vitamin A, D, E & K on a day to day basis, a diet deficient in these essential nutrients can prove debilitating, and artificial supplements are too bloody expensive and possibly even harmful.

In addition I am also getting lazy in my frail dotage (Frail? Hah! Says Wife) and want to do the least work for the most results. To work smarter, not harder is my credo. I’m not the sylph like athlete that I was at 23. No more chopping logs in the freezing cold for me. That's a mugs game although jolly good exercise on occasion and something to take your mind off things.

Thus it is I have been doing some proverbial back-of-a-fag-packet calculations regarding the energy requirements of a five or ten acre smallholding, considering the landscaping and drainage work required to provide a residence that will feed me and mine (Up to an extended family of 15) in comfort if the rest of the world wants to take itself to hell in an economic handbasket. Not that economic meltdown will happen long term, but I am getting older and have come to enjoy the comforts of hot running water, light for reading, and good fresh food well cooked. Energy poverty is not going to be an active phrase in my families lexicon thank you.

The elements of process are relatively simple. First you require a water source, a well or spring is good, then a small electrolysis device for breaking the water down into its component molecules with a compressor for the collected hydrogen, and a vent for the excess oxygen. The hydrogen tank works as a buffer for the fuel cell, which by the process of combustion and integral generator creates energy and waste water which gets vented into a storage tank for later use. The energy thus created is sent via a converter to the rest of the house and grounds, providing power for the whole domestic complex. The only problem appears to be what to do with the surplus electricity if you’re living ‘off the grid’. I’m sure we’ll think of something. That and a ground source heat pump should keep us appropriately toasty or well chilled for quite a number of years. One of our neighbours has one and had to build a swimming pool and king-size Jacuzzi in their basement to soak up all the excess heat. That sounds good to me.

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