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Carolina hydrogen: heavy duty but lighter than air

The hydrogen revolution is taking place, right now...in South Carolina.
Written by Harry Fuller, Contributor on

The hydrogen revolution is taking place, right now...in South Carolina. I recently blogged the state's first H2 fuel station. Now they're unveiling a house powered by solar and a hydrogen fuel cell. It's in Aiken, South Carolina. The second hydrogen-powered house on earth. You can find it in the The Ridge, a privately funded housing development. HOW'S IT WORK? Most hydrogen in the U.S., probably 95 percent of it, is currently produced by using natural gas, which really does not solve the fossil fuel dilemma, explains architect Watt. In these South Carolina homes hydrogen will be produced by solar energy. Photovoltaic cells on the roofs of the homes – now being designed in much more efficient and attractive models – will run electricity through an electrolizer supplied with water, H20. That separates the O2 from the H2. Oxygen and water vapor are the only emission and are beneficially released to the atmosphere. The hydrogen is captured in the hydrogen fuel cell to run the house, along with the solar power.

There is only one other house known in the United States that uses this revolutionary, simple and very safe system to power a home, and that was done by an enterprising engineer who retrofitted his northeastern farm home. The Ridge at Chukker Creek will be the first housing development anywhere in the world to offer this option for sale to people who care deeply about their environment and want to live in a home that generates all of its own power – naturally and for free – without having to build it themselves. Monahan and Watt plan to begin construction in May and the first house should be operational by mid-summer. They hope a family will purchase it and begin enjoying energy self-sufficiency with the knowledge their home is “Green.” The fuel cell area of the first house will be partitioned from the living quarters so that engineers and scientists can monitor and maintain the experimental system.

“This is a fantastic opportunity to apply breakthrough technology to residential home-building,” said Monahan. “We are fortunate to be in Aiken where hydrogen is a familiar subject because the Savannah River Site is here and scientists and engineers there have been working with hydrogen for over fifty years. It would be hard to bring together this caliber of partnership were it not for the pioneering programs that are being undertaken in this city, county and the state of South Carolina.” Monahan and Watt plan to build several Net Zero houses at The Ridge and expect to power several of them with hydrogen. "The use of hydrogen to store energy in residential applications at the Ridge is certainly unique,” said Dr Greenway. “And the highly-efficient system design using metal hydride hydrogen storage is one-of-a-kind. This truly demonstrates Ron Monahan's vision. Greenway Energy is excited to design and integrate this system."

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