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Market News

 June 24, 2009
Panasonic Unveiled 'world's most efficient' Domestic Fuel Cell

 Panasonic has publicizing its fuel-cell technology as a new and innovative way to provide homes with electricity and cut their consumption of mains-sourced power, claiming that every home should have one.The company declared that it will start the production of home-use polymer electrolyte fuel cell (PEFC) system in June. According to the company, the power pack can run for 40,000 hours and 4,000 start-stop cycles that is enough for a ten-year operational lifespan.

Working Of PEFC

The PEFC, i.e. the polymer electrolyte fuel cell, works in the usual way. It takes the hydrogen from the fuel which is combined with the oxygen from the air across a pair of electrodes separated by an electrolyte. The electrons produced by the reacting hydrogen and oxygen are forced by the electrolyte to travel around a circuit as a current. Heat and water are also generated in this process.

The Highest Power Generation Efficiency

Panasonic claimed that its PEFC system has a power generation efficiency of 39 per cent which is the world's highest rate for this technology uptil now. The heat recovery efficiency of the cell is 55 percent. If this system is used alongside with the traditional electricity supplies, it can cut back a typical (Japanese) household's externally sourced supply by 22 %, while cutting back the carbon dioxide production by 12 %.

Test Programme Conducted by Panasonic Company

According to the company, the homes that participated in their test programs by incorporating this new technology, used the units to generate between 500W to 1kW. An alternating current at 50-60 Hz, producing 100-200 V is generated by the unit. The unit is 86 x 78 x 40 cm in size and weighs about 125kg having a fuel capacity of 200 Liters.

Panasonic has been testing its PEFC system since 2005 and now wants to put its fuel cells into production for further field tests that are due later this year. But PEFCs that you can buy won't be available in the market for quite some time since Panasonic doesn't expect to begin full-scale commercialization of the technology until the 2009-2010.

With the adoption of a new inverter, as well as the incorporation of numerous improvements, the product can display 39 percent efficiency, which is, according to Panasonic, the highest in the market among its kind.

The 39 percent efficiency has a steady output of 750W, although it could really be anywhere between 500W and 1kW. Panasonic envisages its PEFC to be used in conjunction with other types of energy sources. The aim is for the PEFC to be used for 22 percent of the total household energy consumption. And since the only byproducts of the PEFC are heat and water, that would mean a 12 percent carbon emission reduction. Matsushita expects to sell 3,000 to 5,000 units by 2010, and 60,000 to 100,000 units by 2015.

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