My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Why UTECH, GOJ and UWI developing Hydrogen Cooking Gas Cylinders for Hydrogen-Electron Economy

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Why UTECH, GOJ and UWI developing Hydrogen Cooking Gas Cylinders for Hydrogen-Electron Economy



“This is the first of its nature in Jamaica. We can see immediately that it could contribute to significantly reducing the import bill”

Minister of Science, Technology Energy and Mining Philip Paulwell at the ACP/EU Solar-Hydrogen Research Project at the Courtleigh Hotel in Kingston on Thursday October 25th 2012AD

UTECH (University of Technology) has now gone on and done one better than just planning to shave 10% off their Electricity Utility bill by going off the Grid using Solar Power (and hopefully Wind Power!) thanks to the JPS Co (Jamaica Public Service Company) as reported in my blog article entitledJPS Co to build 100 KW Solar Plant at UTECH - Marubeni of Japan and EWP (East West Power) Benevolence as LNG Project now Taken 2 the next Level for 2015AD”. 


They’ve now decided to partner with the EU, the GOJ (Government of Jamaica) and UWI (University of the West Indies) to develop Hydrogen  Technology to make a replacement for the Jamaicans cooking staple, the humble LPG (Liquid Petroleum Gas) Cooking Gas Cylinder by 2015AD as stated in “Utech Launches Project to Develop Hydrogen Gas for Cooking”, published Friday, 19 October 2012 10:37, by The Jamaica Information Service.

The researchers hope the achieve the ambitious; replacing them with LPG Cooking Gas Cylinder that use Hydrogen Gas produced via Solar-Powered Electrolysis in research to be conducted over the next three (3) years as stated in the article “New project bottles Hydrogen as cooking gas”, published Sunday October 21, 2012, The Jamaica Gleaner and “Cooking gas from water?”, published Friday, October 19, 2012 BY NEKIESHA REID Business reporter, The Jamaica Observer.

If they succeed, they’ll help Jamaica to save some US$30-million (J$2.7 billion) on our import bill for LPG (Liquid Petroleum Gas) and the Cooking Gas Cylinders Technology and possibly usher in the beginning of the Hydrogen-Electron Economy in Jamaica as predicted in my blog article entitledWhither the Hydrogen Economy for Jamaica”. No doubt LPG Cooking Gas Cylinder Technology is also be imported, as we merely refill the cylinders when they are empty. Jamaica has no local production facility to repair LPG Cooking Gas Cylinder.

Commercial viability is indeed guaranteed, to crib the words of Dr. Ruth Potopsingh, School of Graduate Studies, Research & Entrepreneurship at UTECH who most appropriately is a Project Manager for this venture, quote: “The research initiative has strong potential for commercialization of the results. As a key strategy for reducing unemployment and stimulating economic growth”.

They have several hurdles to overcome aside from cost-effectiveness and Technology: perception among the more educated public of the danger of Hydrogen Gas. As part of their Research to make public acceptance of Hydrogen as a substitute for LPG easier to accept, similar Safety Standards that exist for LPG Cooking Gas Cylinders are being developed for the Hydrogen Equivalent:

1.      Add colour and scent to the Hydrogen Gas
2.      Leakage of Hydrogen Gas via a Flame Blow-Back Prevention System
3.      Design of a New Cylinder to store Hydrogen Gas

The Research into developing the extraction of Hydrogen from Seawater (Hydrogen is easier to extract from Seawater or Water with dissolved Salts) via Solar Electrolysis is being conducted as a joint venture with the following partners:

1.      University of West Indies
2.      Brunel University from Britain
3.      Bureau of Standards Jamaica
4.      Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining

It’s being funded by an EU (European Union) grant of €495,000 (J$58.4 million) given to ACP (African Caribbean and Pacific States, a grant that covers 85% of the project, with the partners picking up the slack. The principal research fellows on the project are:

1.      Dr. Ruth Potopsingh, School of Graduate Studies, Research & Entrepreneurship at UTECH as Project Manager
2.      Dr Earle Wilson, Lecturer at the Faculty of Engineering and Computing, UTECH as Lead Investigators
3.      Lecturers and Students from both UWI (University of the West Indies) and UTECH

The idea, which had its genesis back in August 2012AD and most likely was cribbed from my blog article entitledSenator Phillip Paulwell chooses LNG over Coal - Power Engineers in Steven King's Graveyard Shift” where the idea of a Hydrogen-Electron Economy was posited as a spinoff of the LNG Power Plant Project. This assertion, by the way, is based on blog traffic, which I can track and see who log on to my blog and from where.

Irregardless of the true origins of this Project, it has now become official at the Courtleigh Hotel in Kingston on Thursday October 25th 2012AD, seems geared towards the idea that the excess Energy from the coming 100KW Photovoltaic Facility to be built in the next six (6) months can be used to conduct this research.

I’m keeping this one hopeful and short, as I do like this idea, albeit I have my doubts, mainly to do with practicality of Solar Electrolysis, even though sunlight Energy is free and the cost-effectiveness of the Final Product, that being bottled Hydrogen for Cooking. Hydrogen produced by Solar Power Electrolysis as it has to be cheaper than Steam Reformation of Natural Gas, a by-product of Oil Extraction and thus LPG in order for it to catch on with consumers.

Not only that, a Public Awareness campaign has to be implemented to educate Jamaicans as to the advantages of using Hydrogen over LPG as well as the safe and proper handling of LHG (Liquid Hydrogen Gas).

After all, it’s more practical to have a stove that uses Solar Power directly, or even just converts the Sunlight to Electricity and be used for cooking, as that’s more efficient. Using sunlight to split Hydrogen is itself a wasteful use of Electricity from Solar Energy, no matter how free it is, especially as it relates to the very real cost of the Equiptment to do Electrolysis of Seawater.

Other methods exist to make Hydrogen, such as using Steam Reformation of Natural Gas, as Natural Gas is now plentiful and is the focus of Oil Exploration and recent large Natural Gas find as noted in my blog article entitledAlternative Energy and Natural Gas - Genesis of the Hydrogen-Electron Economy”.

There is even the use of GMO (Genetically Modified) Bacteria to break down Seawater or even Organic Waste via Anaerobic Digestion into Methane for Steam Reformation or even directly into Hydrogen Gas as posited in my blog article entitledHydrogen Economy and Natural Gas -  Rise of the Oceanospirillales Microbes” and “Hydrogen Economy and Natural Gas -  Wall-E and the Rise of the Oceanospirillales Microbes”.

These above examples are  part of the classic Energy Transportation problem of Hydrogen as posited by Dr. Ulf Bossel in his published paper entitled “Why a Hydrogen Economy doesn't make sense”, published December 11 2006, PhysOrg.com. No matter how free the source of Energy, the mere fact that you have to use it to make Hydrogen which has to be stored at sub zero temperatures as a compressed gas or a liquid means that it’s a wasteful form of Chemical Energy Storage.

Despite the free Energy used in the electrolysis, the Energy lost due to the Energy needed to store Hydrogen as a Liquid or even a super-cooled Gas is a problem that has to be overcome by the Researchers. The fact that some has to be allowed to naturally leak to prevent a build-up of pressure in the storage vessel makes Hydrogen a very inefficient and dangerous storage form of Energy.


I even have concerns over the safe storage of Hydrogen, which has a habit of exploding without necessarily being near a direct heat source and burning rapidly with an explosive invisible flame; it only needs a heat source and oxygen, not even direct flame, as Hydrogen exists as bonded pairs of Atoms; easily excitable from Ground State to give up an electron in a reaction.

But I’m still hopeful, as research needs to be done to Develop a Hydrogen Economy, or at least a Hydrogen-Electron Economy as suggested in my blog article entitledWhither the Hydrogen Economy for Jamaica”.

This as Hydrogen can be used for not only Cooking Gas, but like Natural Gas which is used to make LPG, it can also power All-Electric Vehicles just like LPG as described in my blog article entitledJUTC, Challenger and LNG - Journey to the Center of the Earth” and my Geezam blog article entitled “Auto LPG as a Motor Vehicle Fuel”.

These new class of All-Electric Vehicles can either use the Hydrogen in an onboard Electric Generator to generate Electricity in Range Extender Technology Configuration to recharge Lithium-Ion Batteries.

Alternatively, the Hydrogen Gas can sequestered via suitable catalysts from Seawater, LPG or even Gasoline and used directly in a Hydrogen Fuel Cell Configuration, with the Hydrogen Gas being produced as suggested in my blog article entitledLithium-Ion vs Hydrogen Fuel Cell - The Living Daylights” and “Alternative Energy and Volvo - Tomorrow Never Dies for the  Hydrogen-Electron Economy”.

A similar Promise exists for Energy Sector Liberalization. The large scale production of Hydrogen Gas can be used to fuel the LNG Power Plant in the future when LNG runs out for which JPS Co has been given the go-ahead to supply with LNG and build as mentioned in my blog article entitledJPS Co to build 100 KW Solar Plant at UTECH - Marubeni of Japan and EWP (East West Power) Benevolence as LNG Project now Taken 2 the next Level for 2015AD”.

In essence, the beginning of the much, vaulted Hydrogen Economy as I’d predicted in my blog article entitledSenator Phillip Paulwell chooses LNG over Coal - Power Engineers in Steven King's Graveyard Shift

So how do the researchers plan to do this?

Early clues can be seen in the words of Dr. Ruth Potopsingh, quote: “There are some areas which need to be perfected like reducing the Energy cost of splitting the atoms in the Water to produce the Hydrogen, hence the use of optimised solar panels”.

This suggests that the Solar Panels used to build the 100KW Facility that will be supplied by the JPS Co will most likely be fitted with Solar Concentrator Mirrors, which will concentrate sunlight from all directions. Motorized tracking of the Sun across the sky to ensure maximum incident light perpendicular to the Solar Panel’s surface may also be part of the “optimized” design.

The use of Seawater as the source of Hydrogen is most likely, as the presence of dissolved Sodium Chloride, Potassium and Manganese Salts are a by-product that would offset the cost of the product. These could be exported internationally of be packaged as Table salt as well as be used in the Pharmaceutical, Battery and Food Processing Industry as additives to improve the nutritional value of food.

The use of Seawater would also generate Desalinated Water, another by-product which along with Table Salt and other dissolved minerals in Seawater could be sold Locally or exported internationally to offset the cost of using Solar Power to split Water into Hydrogen and Oxygen as suggested in my blog article entitled Water Security Policy and Water Sector Liberalization Needed to avoid Drought”.

The Electrodes used in the Solar Power Electrolysis could be designed so that instead of being flat metal plates, they’d be very thin membrane electrodes made of inert non-metallic material e.g. Silica Glass, designed to be porous and have an infinite surface area using Fractal Geometry methods. This so that the Electrodes referred to as a Polymer Electrolyte Membrane is not consumed during Solar Power Electrolysis, with the accumulated Salts being easily removed via the use of a suitable inorganic solvent.

The use of off-the-shelf components could also lower the costs, making such a system to produce Hydrogen Gas on an Industrial scale competitive with Steam Reformation of Natural Gas. But a more sensible option to Converting Seawater to Steam and then transporting it to homes in Cooking Gas Cylinders would be to develop a system that produce the Hydrogen Gas at the customer’s premises using Solar Power Electrolysis.

Effectively, this would solve the Transportation Problem of Hydrogen Gas by simply transporting it in its safest form: De-mineralized Seawater. This counters all the problems of converting Hydrogen to Gas, bottling it and designing Gas Cylinders to Hydrogen in Liquid or compressed form, as Water is Hydrogen and Oxygen combined.

The Solar Power Electrolysis system could then be set up at the customer’s premises funded by Banking Loans and possibly GOJ waivers on the importation of Solar Panels, Wind Turbines and other Alternative Energy Gear as suggested in my blog article entitledScotiaBank and VMBS now offering Alternative Energy Loans - Rise of the Guardians to make Solar Power affordable to Jamaicans”. Ditto too for All-Electric Motor Vehicles, which would generate the Hydrogen from integrated Solar Panels as the vehicle drives around.

It would then produce Hydrogen Gas for not only Cooking Gas purposes, but Heating Water as well. The Generation of Electricity to power the house at night would then be achieved by a Low-Noise Hydrogen Generator.

This would make the customer’s house self-sustaining and able to make money via the current Net Billing facility implemented by the Ministry of Science, Technology Energy and Mining as mentioned in my blog article entitled “Phillip Paulwell makes Net Billing official with 11 licenses issued - JPS Co invited via Mavado's Come Round a Mi Yard”.

In effect, this research may yield a practical implementation of the Hydrogen-Electron Economy for everything in Jamaica at competitive Prices by 2015AD, particularly:

1.      Cooking Gas
2.      Self-sustaining Electricity for Houses
3.      Fuel for JUTC Public Transport Vehicles modified to use Hydrogen
4.      All-Electric Motor Vehicles that use Hydrogen in a Hydrogen powered Range Extender Configuration or Hydrogen Fuel Cell Configuration

In the process, useful by-products are produced to offset the cost of the project such as:

1.      Table Salt
2.      Dissolved minerals such as Potassium and Manganese
3.      Potable Drinking Water

Potable Drinking Water would also be a by-product that the customer could also resell back to the company that installs the Solar Power Electrolysis system for Local consumption or Export. Possibly it may even help to usher in Water Sector Liberalization as described in my blog article entitled “Water Sector Liberalization and the RainCatch Cloak - Activated Charcoal makes Potable WaterWorld”.

For these reasons, I’m very excited by the potential yields of this research, as in three (3) years time, 2015AD, the Researchers should eventually come to the above conclusions as they are currently Chasing Mavericks (2012) as it relates to the practicality of a Hydrogen-Electron Economy in Jamaica as Peak Oil approaches in 2015AD.
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