Prototype: Solar mixed with hydrogen power.

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010 @ 11:43 pm | Energy

A self-sufficient home:

On a typical summer day, the solar panels drink in and convert sunlight to about 90 kilowatt-hours of electricity, according to Strizki. He consumes about 10 kilowatt-hours daily to run the family’s appliances, including a 50-inch plasma television, along with his three computers and stereo equipment, among other modern conveniences.

The remaining 80 kilowatt-hours recharge the batteries—which provide electricity for the house at night—and power the electrolyzer, which splits the molecules of purified tap water into hydrogen and oxygen. The oxygen is vented and the hydrogen goes into the tanks where it is stored for use in the cold, dark winter months. From November to March or so Strizki runs the stored hydrogen through the fuel cell stacks outside his garage or in his car to power his entire house—and the only waste product is water, which can be pumped right back into the system.

“I can make fuel out of sunlight and water—and I don’t even use the water,” he notes. “If it’s raining, it’s fuel. If it’s sunny, it’s fuel. It’s all fuel.”

Now, granted, the set-up cost half a million dollars. But as a pilot-project, this is a superb effort. The trick of solar is always about spreading the power surplus around to the hours that the sun isn’t shining. As always, hydrogen is price-prohibitive, but being tech mass production and refinement may yield long-term results.


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