Jill Fehrenbacher

NATION'S FIRST SOLAR-HYDROGEN HOUSE

by , 03/17/07

Nation’s First Solar-Hydrogen House, Michael Strizki, Civil Engineer, Hydrogen Fuel Cell plus solar power

A New Jersey civil engineer powers his home with solar panels and hydrogen tanks. Could this sort of thing work for mainstream homeowners?

Mike Strizki is a civil engineer who lives in the nation’s first solar-hydrogen house. He pays nothing for monthly utilities bills at all, because the technology he’s managed to put together – solar panels, a hydrogen fuel cell, storage tanks, and a piece of equipment called an electrolyzer – provides year round power to his home, even on the cloudiest of days. Strizki lives “off the grid” and his system creates no greenhouse gas emissions. He also has a fuel cell car which runs off the hydrogen his system creates.

from The Christian Science Monitor…



It sounds promising, even utopian: homemade, storable energy that doesn’t contribute to global warming. But does Strizki’s method – converting electricity generated from renewable sources into hydrogen – make sense for widespread adoption? According to some renewable-energy experts, the answer is “no,” at least not anytime soon. The system is too expensive, they say, and the process of creating hydrogen from clean sources is itself laced with inefficiency – the numbers just don’t add up.

Strizki’s response: “Nothing is as wildly expensive as destroying the whole planet.”

Read the whole article at The Christian Science Monitor >

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13 Comments

  1. Jonny Smith December 26, 2012 at 9:38 am

    Why it that the solution must be cheaper? Seems to me that cheaper is how we got into most of our messes.

  2. Nate June 15, 2007 at 5:23 am

    I have some questions and thoughts. How is it efficient to take electricity, convert into hydrogen, then convert it back to electricity? And if it is/becomes efficient, why dont/wouldnt elelctricity companies use the technology to make electricity first, saving and making them money, over the idea each individual will make their own hydrogen electricity? I dont see the electric company moving to make more electricity with a water tap. I would think for someone at home to make hydrogen to make electricity instead of the electricity company doing it would be like choosing to supply your own water over the water companies already supplied water. Most people just dont do it. Im a bit confused.

  3. Henry April 6, 2007 at 4:40 am

    Not true. With state and local subsidies, at least here in California, the solar panels will pay for themselves in about 7-9 years. That’s nothing. After that? You have at least a three decades or so of free electricity. Sure, the efficiency of the panels decrease with age, but to suggest that they will need to be replaced after 9 years is uninformed, at best.

  4. royalestel April 2, 2007 at 2:27 pm

    Yeah, great idea. But costs way too much money to do this myself. Right about when the solar panels have generated enough electricity to pay themselves off, they’ll have to be replaced. Might save some coal-burning, but sure as heck won’t save any money. Need a new tech . . .

  5. Erik March 21, 2007 at 2:24 pm

    i would argue that this isn’t the first solar hydrogen house, i don’t know how long it took or when it was completed but as a member of the 2005 NYIT solar decathlon team we designed & built a solar hydrogen home on the mall in washington dc, using the exact same technology, pv’s, electrolyzer, storage tank & fuel cell. we had over 100,000 visitors and the house now resides on the campus of the us merchant marine academy on long island ny, where someone will still let you in and take a look around, it’s just a little bit of a chore to get a hold of someone. the technology is costly now, as most is in infancy but it’s people like this who seek out different solutions that will lead the way to massive change. you can check out the NYIT hydrogen house, as well as the schools 2007 entry at http://iris.nyit.edu/solardecathlon/

  6. JS March 20, 2007 at 8:51 am

    solar absolutely can meet our energy needs. in rough terms, more solar energy strikes the earth’s surface in less than one hour than all of what humans consume in a year.

    great discussion above!!

  7. Warren Brooke March 19, 2007 at 12:06 pm

    I believe that the idea that solar cannot meet our energy needs is false. It is an idea based upon our current energy demand, in which energy is used extremely wastefully to heat and power our home, and to drive five miles to work and back each day. There is a difference between “price” and “cost”. The “price” of petroleum is artificially low…subsidised by governments to fuel the larger economy. The “cost” of using petroleum is enormous, leading to choking smog in our cities, wars between our nations, and warming of the entire planet.

    Perhaps solar energy cannot meet the demand of the way we currently use energy. However, if we began by designing everything we use, from homes to automobiles to blenders, with energy efficiency in mind, then the sunlight falling on our buildings would be much more than enough to supply all of our needs. Even if we began by putting proper insulation in our buildings, it would go a long way to decreasing our reliance on fossil fuels.

  8. Gary Paudler March 19, 2007 at 11:58 am

    What Strzki has done is the ONLY way that hydrogen can begin to make sense, though as already noted, it’s far too expensive to become a common solution. Inefficiency is inherent in any methods to either electrolize hydrogen from water, as Strzki seems to be doing or “reforming” hydrogen from hydrocarbon fuels which is what the “hydrogen economy” canard holds for us. In that scenario, we stay dependant on the petroleum industry to provide the hydrocarbons from which our fuel cells get their hydrogen to make electricity to run our cars and homes.
    Hydrogen should be thought of as an energy storage medium, like a battery, rather than as a source of energy. That’s the way Strzki is using it but it’s only sustainable and non-consumptive of resources because he has invested a lot of money in a lot of PV cells. I’d like to hear more from Strzki, obviously a very intelligent and thoughtful guy, about why he’s using hydrogen and fuel cells instead of batteries.

    Gary

  9. Julie March 19, 2007 at 11:30 am

    How much is “too expensive”? Apply the supply and demand rules and “expensive “will come down. When we demand this technology the cost will come down…look at wide screen TV cost 5 years ago. The alternative to not exploring this avenue is expensive. Black outs, widespread wholesale system failures, hospitals without power, governments crippled without electricity, social chaos….That’s expensive…not this little piece of technology. Right now it’s just too easy for us to plug that wide screen TV in the wall and have it work.

  10. The Revolution Corporation March 18, 2007 at 6:58 pm

    I’ve done a fair amount of legwork seeking solar-to-hydrogen for my sustainable affordable-housing prototypes. It’s a good idea, a great idea, but it’s time is about 10 years off from now. It’s still far too expensive for use by your average homeowner (or small to mid-size business). Most engineers and related companies suggested that I note my project as “going in that direction”, but put the idea out of my head for now, and call them back in 5-7 years.
    I’m glad and excited that these engineers are out there working on this with such zest. I’m excited about the possibilities of how their science will someday empower my ideas and designs. It’s been a long time since scientists and engineers were viewed as *inventors* or *pioneers*, garnishing the respect that they are due. Now that we need them to come to the rescue, I hope the business world and the general public will show them more appreciation ( think we can spare some from our athletes and actors).

  11. edw.a.roth March 18, 2007 at 11:40 am

    Ever since the days of MotherEarth news and The Whole Earth Catalog (yup, the 60′s) I have been waiting for an efficient AND cost effective way to get “off the grid”. The problem? Everyone is talking a good line,NO ONE is doing! Try finding an affordable solar voltaic cell,an affordable fuel cell or an affordable mini wind mill. They don’t exist. Try finding a knowledgeable contractor at a reasonable price. Guess what,they don’t exist either. Having an environmentally friendly…”green” and efficient home is out of reach for most people I know. Until costs come down so average working folk can afford these wonderful systems it will be an out of reach pipedream and remain merely talk.

  12. Dave March 17, 2007 at 11:04 pm

    At least he is doing something and isn’t sitting around moaning and groaning about the high cost of all fuels. Those who are skeptical are probably shareholders in some sort of fuel producing mega corporation.

  13. Energ8t March 17, 2007 at 5:07 pm

    Of course Strzki’s system has its limitations, but “they” say a lot of things, don’t “they”? If we all had Strizki’s system instead of our current system, then one person with an oil powered combustion engine would seem “inefficient” and unrealistic. As far as efficiency goes, Solar energy built right is COP (coefficient of performance) greater than 1, meaning it can produce more energy than it took to make the solar cell. This is free energy being “irrigated” from the sun. This is not inefficient. Also of note, is that Strzki’s system is a not-so-new model of decentralizing the power grid. This makes blackouts unlikely, if not impossible. If an area was struck by earthquake or disaster, then the surrounding areas are unaffected and could probably provide the support that the affected region would need. Solar power can also be used in a plethora of ways, together with PVC cells. There is “softer” low tech architectural designs that can use material smarter and more practically. These solutions exist in many different forms – use your internet and start researching. Decentralizing the energy grid is also another way of strengthening our country against “terrorism” (as contrived as that term might be) or attacks – there is no single point of vulnerability, no grid to take out in a single Rambo-like blow of death. But decentralize is a naughty word. So ignore it. Then again…”they” killed the electric car too. Be careful of what “experts” and “they” might have you hear.

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