GE Cuts Hydrogen Cost With Plastic Electrode Enclosure

Wind turbines and efficient dishwashers are great start but they hardly make a trend line. Where are all the green innovations we've been waiting to hear about from GE since last year's proclamation? Finally comes an announcement that makes an old classic sound eprovisational enough to get our attention . Seems GE has gotten it's Ecomagination chops after all. From the MIT Technology Review: "...researchers at GE say they've come up with a prototype version of an easy-to-manufacture apparatus that they believe could lead to a commercial machine able to produce hydrogen via electrolysis for about $3 per kilogram -- a quantity roughly comparable to a gallon of gasoline -- down from today's $8 per kilogram. That could make it economically practical for future fuel-cell vehicles that run on hydrogen.""...The core problem in improving electrolyzers for hydrogen manufacture is not how to improve the fundamental conversion efficiency, says Richard Bourgeois, an electrolysis project leader at GE Global Research in Niskayuna, NY. "You can only make it so much more efficient; there isn't a lot you can do. So we've attacked the capital costs," he says...Bourgeois' research team came up with a way to make future electrolyzers largely out of plastic. They used a GE plastic called Noryl [molecular structure of polymer segment shown above] that is extremely resistant to the highly alkaline potassium hydroxide. And because the plastic is easy to form and join, manufacturing an electrolyzer is relatively cheap".

A great many wonderful sounding inventions never make it past the lab bench and patent office simply because the all important manufacturing cost hurdle is never overcome. This sad truth serves as the rational for those who champion fossil fuels as the only legit option. Keep on using that ecomagination GE.

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