System Conversion

All stationary fuel users will ultimately convert their equipment to burn pipeline-supplied hydrogen. For natural gas users this will involve an adjustment of the air to fuel mixture ratio. Methane burns at a mixture ratio of one volume of methane to 10 volumes of air. One volume of hydrogen requires only 2.5 volumes of air. The gas flow orifice must be enlarged to allow the larger volumetric flow of

186 de Nevers, Noel, "Liquid Natural Gas", Scientific American, Vol. 217, No. 4, October 1967, Page 30

hydrogen required to deliver the same amount of energy. Changing the fuel-gas supply-pressure can also affect this adjustment. These are extremely simple changes and can be made in a few minutes on a simple fuel-using device such as a kitchen stove. For large facilities, such as power plants, the change may require a few weeks; but the time and cost is still quite small. I87'I88'189

There is previous experience in making this type of change. In the late thirties and forties, much of the nation was switched from producer gas or coal gas to natural gas. Producer or coal gas required about the same mixture ratio as hydrogen: that is, 1 volume of fuel gas to 2.5 of air. These changes were made with a minimum of difficulty and with a high level of safety. The conversion was made in sections, each of limited scope. This allowed the shift of a small portion of the supply grid from one gas to the other in only a few hours. All users were informed the change was coming and the time the change would be made. At the change time, a team of technicians fanned out through the converting area and changed the orifice size and the air mixture ratio of all the equipment. Then the gas supply was switched. In the follow, day or two the technicians finished conversion of any equipment not converted at the time of the change and made any necessary adjustments. Very few problems were encountered during this change. The major difficulty was caused by rarely used equipment. In some cases, this equipment was ignored during the original change period; later, when it was used it required emergency adjustments.

Stationary furnace combustion equipment currently fueled by coal or oil can be converted to hydrogen by replacing the coal grates or oil injectors with hydrogen injectors. This, again, is a relatively simple task; but it will be more complicated than the conversion of natural gas equipment. The furnace will be shut down for a time sufficiently long to install the prefabricated hydrogen burner. The hydrogen burner will be connected through control systems to the hydrogen pipeline. Unlike conversions of systems that currently use natural gas, these conversions, from solid or liquid fuels to gas, will require the purchase of new equipment, the hydrogen burners.

These two simple conversions will cover a large part of the stationary equipment. Gas fired home furnaces, water heaters, and stoves will all be handled in this simple manner at low cost. Coal and oil fired equipment will be less simple to convert. It will require the purchase of a low cost gas burner to replace the coal grates and oil injectors. Examples of industrial processes that can be converted in this simple manner include power plants, steel making, glass making, chemical processes, ore refining, and steam for heating.

When the hydrogen system is in place new equipment can be introduced that will take advantage of some of the special properties of hydrogen. The Institute of Gas Technology in catalytic hydrogen burners has exploited the absence of potentially poisonous combustion products and the chemical nature of hydrogen. In these burners, the hydrogen is forced to flow through a specially treated layer of porous ceramic coated with nickel. 190 The nickel activates the hydrogen causing it to react with the oxygen of the air within the pores of the ceramic. The combustion and energy release occur without any flame. This type of burner can be used for cooking or heating. When incorporated as a cook top the response is quick, much like a gas flame. Compared to a flame the heat is uniform and the peak temperature is not so high. For home heating, the catalytic burner can be placed in a room without any vent. This allows 100% efficiency in heating and the water vapor produced helps humidify the air. If

187 Gregory, Derek P., "The Hydrogen Economy", Scientific American, Vol. 228, No. I January 1973, Page 13,

188 Jones, Lawrence W., "Liquid Hydrogen as the Fuel for the Future", Science, Vol. 174, Page 367, October 22, 1971

189 Williams, Laurence O., "Plan for The Elimination of Pollution", Design News, January 5 1970

190 Williams, Laurence O., "Hydrogen Power", Pergamon Press Inc., Maxwell House, Fairview Park, Elmsford, New York 10523, 1980

there is too much humidification the hydrogen burner can be vented to the outside as is done with today's gas burners.

Hydrogen also has enormous advantages in supplying energy to less developed nations. The hydrogen can be distributed to villages through easy-to-install, low-pressure plastic pipes. In the villages, simple distribution systems can conduct the gas to each home for cooking or heating. Unlike electrical equipment, a simple gas burner is much nearer the historical wood fire and can be easily used by people with relatively little previous experience with technology. When adopted on a worldwide basis the Fusion-Hydrogen energy system will greatly reduce the need for firewood and aid in maintaining the environmentally valuable forests. A substitute for firewood may seem like a trivial use for hydrogen but deforestation caused by the need for firewood is a global problem affecting many less developed nations. 191 In places where electric power is needed it can be provided efficiently by on-site fuel cells, eliminating the need for overhead electric transmission lines. 192

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