FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
1) Why is AEC's hydrogen production technology unique and how is it more viable than other forms of hydrogen production?
It has been stated by leading industry experts that the hydrogen economy will not become reality until two important developments occur:
- A reduction in the selling price of a reliable fuel cell
The availability of low-cost, safe hydrogen
a ) Many fuel cell prices have started to descend, but are still considered too high for mass commercial appeal. In addition, what is not included in these prices is the operating cost, which can include the replacement of very expensive membranes (i.e. PEM). The PEM fuel cell's current cost includes the precious metal platinum, which currently represents approximately 30% of the cost of the cell. Therefore, any saving in cost is over-shadowed by the cost of the platinum, the result being an expensive fuel cell. AEC has partnered with Astris Energi, a leader in Alkaline fuel cell technology, because of their fuel cell's strong reliability and lower cost due to a non-reliance on expensive metals.
b) The least expensive hydrogen is currently derived from the reformation of fossil fuels such as natural gas. Current cost estimates indicate that AEC can produce hydrogen at a significantly lower cost and realize a strong profit even with selling it at a very competitive price.
For those considering the purchase and use of fuel cells for alternative power needs, our low-cost hydrogen drastically reduces the operating costs, making it an affordable investment. Combining a relatively low-cost and reliable fuel cell with AEC's inexpensive, on-demand hydrogen offers an affordable and portable fuel cell solution to the market.
2) To whom will you be selling the product and when?
AEC intends to sell a combined product (our hydrogen production unit and third-party fuel cell or internal combustion engine/generator), to a wide spectrum of major organizations in the industrial, commercial, residential, utility and government markets.
3) Can you disclose your method of hydrogen production?
At this point, while patents are pending, AEC can disclose only a limited amount of technical information to protect its proprietary rights. Full disclosure will occur once patents have been issued.
What can be disclosed is the following. Tap or even sea water mixed with a combination of readily available and price-stable metals and chemical compounds are added together into a sealed container combined with a solution that allows for a chemical reaction to take place. Hydrogen in a gaseous state is then produced (tested 99.9% pure), along with water and oxygen as non-toxic by-products. The process is completely bio-compatible (non-toxic and safe to the environment).
4) What is the cycle life?
Based on results from current in-house testing, conservative estimates indicate that our current hydrogen production unit will produce an on-going supply of hydrogen required to operate a 1kw fuel cell for many weeks without maintenance. The only additional requirement is the continuous addition of nominal amounts of water during this time.
To look at another example: A sugar-cube sized piece of our material, combined with the required chemicals and water will produce enough hydrogen to fill a cubic area the volume of an imaginary cubic football field three (3) times.
5) How is carbonization of alkaline electrolyte handled?
With proper filtration and by using our pure hydrogen (99.9%), this is not an issue.
6) What is your prediction on when (what year) cars will be powered by fuel cells?
It is difficult to make predictions in this area, as there are a multitude of contributing factors. However, what can be said is that there is major application for our product in the transportation industry as we can produce hydrogen on demand and eliminate the need for any storage, avoiding the creation of an enormously expensive hydrogen distribution infrastructure. Major auto manufacturers such as GM, Toyota and Honda have been quoted as saying that they will be in a position to go to market within 5-10 years with an affordable hydrogen-powered automobile, but their models all appear to be based on the expensive PEM fuel cell technology.
7) What will be the cost of the appliance that will be used to power the average home?
Only very rough estimates on price can be ascertained at this time, as variables such as manufacturing, sales and marketing costs, licensing fees and distribution all come into play. However, AEC is committed to economically practical solutions and therefore is working to deploy a unit that is affordable to the commercial electricity user as well as the home owner.
8) Are there any specific plans for mass production?
AEC's strategy is to partner or license the technology with organizations that have reputable manufacturing experience, a pervasive distribution infrastructure and superior customer service capabilities in the retail sector to ensure quick time-to-market via their manufacturing, co-marketing and selling of the units. Communication with a number of interested parties is currently in progress.
9) How do you get away from the high heat (and thus high energy) requirements of the standard approach to this type of separation?
Unfortunately, since this would require the disclosure of significant proprietary information, we are not in a position to explain in any detail at this time. Simply, AEC's hydrogen production process does overcome the input energy and high-heat issues typically found in other forms of hydrogen extraction.
10) What is your output of H2?
Output volume tests have been conducted in-house by the company. On-going analysis on hydrogen volume maximization for our unit is also in progress. What can be disclosed is that AEC's hydrogen production unit was able to supply enough power to run Astris Energi's 1kw golf cart (Announcements, Sept 17th, 2003). The hydrogen requirement of the Astris fuel cell is proprietary and cannot be disclosed. During this test however, more hydrogen was produced than was needed. However, this was considered to be a small application, as AEC is targeting producing enough hydrogen per minute to run a stationary home unit of 6-7kw for several weeks at a time without refresh of material (exception of water).
In addition to the above, the following questions have been asked and will be answered subsequent to the filing of our proprietary patents:
- What are the results/comprehensive analysis of a Gas (Mass Balance) ?
- What are the electrolyte dynamics ?
- What is changing in the electrolyte during the process ?
- How quickly does the material dissolve into water ?
AEC acknowledges its own limitations in its inability to quantify specific technology claims at this time. Many questions have arisen with regard to; control output/regulation of output, sustainable production rate and data to support the technology's affordability, to name a few.
As was quantified with purity testing and the successful running of the Astris fuel cell, all questions relating to AEC's hydrogen program will be answered as soon as is feasibly possible, with objective scientific evidence to support them by a recognized major independent laboratory.