PowerUP to The Electron Economy

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SynECO's picture
Joined: 9 Jul 2008
PowerUP to The Electron Economy

Oil Economy ---How long can it last??????

What will the Energy Driver of a Sustainable Synergetic Economy for the Future ???


>>>>>>>> Excerpts from

The Electron Economy: the Energy Future is nearer than you think…


The Electron Economy: What is it?

The Swiss-based fuel-cell engineer and entrepreneur Ulf Bossel coined the term and concept “electron economy”. In my conversations with him, Ulf says that he came up with the notion of the “electron economy” to counteract the influence of Jeremy Rifkin’s “Hydrogen Economy” concept. In 2001-2002, Rifkin had been touring Europe gaining the attention of governments and environmental groups in support of using hydrogen as the energy carrier of the future.

Despite being heavily invested in fuel cells as a technology, Ulf and the conference he organizes, the European Fuel Cell Forum, have repudiated hydrogen as a fuel for fuel cells (favoring other fuels like alcohols etc.) due to the net inefficiency of isolating and storing hydrogen (maximum efficiency of 25%).

The end product of all fuel cells is electricity so with hydrogen fuel cells you would lose at least 75 joules of energy to generate the equivalent of 25 joules of electricity at the point of use.

Ulf explains the electron economy concept here in a paper from 2005.

Here in summary are the main aspects of the electron economy:

  1. Electricity, it turns out, is a highly efficient and flexible carrier of energy.
  2. Electric motors are highly efficient energy conversion devices (85 to 95% efficiency vs. 15-25% for typical gasoline engines).
  3. Newer (hydrogen) and older competitors (fossil fuels) to electricity are less efficient and/or have environmental drawbacks.
  4. We already have over a century of experience with electricity
  5. Renewable energy sources (wind, sun, tides, geothermal heat) can usually most efficiently be converted to electricity rather than to other carriers like biofuels (solar cells, though currently expensive, are up to 400 times more efficient in converting sunlight into energy than plants).
  6. We should focus on transitioning to a largely electric energy infrastructure with the probable exception of fuels for aviation and shipping, where biofuels will have advantages.
  7. Increasing the energy-to-weight ratio and usefulness of electricity storage devices (batteries, etc.) is largely a technical and economic issue that will change for the better, as has been already witnessed in the portable electronics industry. Setting today’s battery capacity as an upper-limit to what can be done with batteries and electricity storage is a political move, not based on reasonable expectations for even modest technological improvements.
  8. Even an economy fueled in part by fossil fuels can be made less environmentally damaging by increased use of electricity as an energy carrier and using electric energy conversion devices like electric motors.Using fossil fuels in highly efficient fuel cells and combined-cycle power plants to generate electricity is second-best to electricity generated by renewable sources but may play transitional roles to a carbon-neutral economy.