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CELL POWER.

Last June, engineers from Plug Power threw a switch and disconnected a small Latham, New York ranch house from the power grid. The house didn't go dark because it was powered by a fuel cell, a promising emissionfree technology that was invented in the 1830s, but is only now becoming practical for a range of uses, including "distributed" power for homes.

Fuel cells (see "Beyond Batteries," November/December 1997) run on hydrogen, which can be extracted from natural gas, gasoline, methanol or other sources. Instead of burning the fuel, they chemically produce electricity from it, with only water vapor as a byproduct. Interestingly enough, another company, International Fuel Cells/ONSI, powered a house with the same technology back in the 1960s. Fuel cells are touted as the "future power" for automobiles, but ONSI is now the main player in what is, called "stationary" power, and has delivered several hundred 200-kilowatt power plants to customers. If trends continue, home fuel cell power could; become a big contender in 12110/(518)782-7700.
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Author:Motavalli, Jim
Publication:E
Date:Nov 1, 1998
Words:170
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