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Old 02-04-2013, 21:38   #16
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Re: E FOY Fuel Cell Generator

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Originally Posted by Finistere View Post
Defender has these units for sale:

Marine Fuel Cell on Sale

$59.99 plus shipping for the 10 liter (2.5 Gal) fuel cartridge, that is only $24 a gallon methanol. I will pass up going green in this case.
But you need to drive to CT to pick up the fuel... I quoted one of these a while back and after doing the research found it to be a very expensive way of generating power...

The biggest problem, other than expense, is that even the EFOY 2200 only pumps out 7.5A of charge current or roughly 90W. Wind and solar can easily exceed this, and for a lot less than half the installed price.

The fuel cells also need to be purchased directly from EFOY, and are pretty pricey... Over the long haul at the cost of the unit, the fuel cells and how much current we use on boats it's a tough sell until they can get these up to 20-30A output +........

The fuel cost for these units is quite steep. Roughly $20.00 per gallon plus shipping. It runs about $5.00 per kilowatt-hour or roughly $5.00 for every 80 amp-hours of charging. A single 140W solar panel will produce 40 +/- Ah's /day for no additional cost. Oh and when I say plus shipping, I mean PLUS.

My closest EFOY dealer is in MA and when I priced it out last time for a customer who wanted the straight dope on them I found that shipping an M-10 fuel cell, which is 2.6 GAL, it cost nearly $100.00 to get from MA to ME due to the fact that it had to go FedEX and was classified as Haz Mat shipping. So 2.6 GAL / $159.00 = $61.15 PER GALLON... That jumps the cost to well over $15.00 per 80Ah of charging.
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Old 02-04-2013, 22:00   #17
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Re: E FOY Fuel Cell Generator

Methanol for $20-$24/gallon? That's a hell of a markup since I sell methanol for $1.40/gallon. Now that is wholesale and price for bulk in a 7000 gallon tank truck but still. Maybe I need to start repackaging the stuff and sell retail.
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Old 02-04-2013, 22:02   #18
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Re: E FOY Fuel Cell Generator

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Originally Posted by Evelyn L II View Post
Anyone know if the IRS is still giving away TAX deductions for BUYING either a Solar System or Fossil Fuel System?
Yes, the Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit pays 30% of the cost of solar electric and wind generation systems for "qualifying residential properties". The credit is available through 12/31/2016 (31/12/2016 for the Europeans, not they would care in this case).

The tax credit is available to both primary and secondary residences.

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(a) Except as provided in section 3.01(2)(b) of this notice, a qualifying dwelling unit is a dwelling unit that is located in the United States and is used as a residence by the taxpayer.
Lots of successful arguments that a boat can be a primary (or secondary) residence within the meaning of the tax code, then there's the "dwelling unit" definition to consider. That's between you and your tax person (if any) - YMMV.

Federal Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit

http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/n-09-41.pdf

BTW, credit applies (with limits) to fuel cells as well.
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Old 02-04-2013, 23:44   #19
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Re: E FOY Fuel Cell Generator

Efoy say only their grade of Methanol must be used!

The company also offers a 5 year warranty before the cells may need a major and very expensive service. I've seen suggestions of the cost at 3000$. This they say is after 4-5000 hours use. This high service cost makes Fuel Cells even less appealing than just the high fuel running costs and delivery costs.

Effoy’s website shows a charge capacity/day of 210Ah for their largest fuel cell which only charges at 8.8 amps - so after 24 hrs it could theoretically put in 211Ah but only into a large battery bank that will take a constant 8.8 amps which would not fall away as the battery becomes fully charged. More realistically this might be 100Ah/24hrs running continually if trying to get a battery bank up to 100%.

So at 100Ah/d the number of days a Fuel Cell should last before they need major maintenance is a maximum of 5000hrs/24hrs, which is about 200 days. This is a fair estimate for a full time liveaboard. Your average daily Ah usage maybe much more, especially when sailing, and you may also have solar power and add in occasional motoring and visits to marinas and the 200 days could be extended to 365 days. If you are using your fuel cell for MOST of your charging needs then according to Effoy's figures they surely cannot last 5 years before needing a major expensive service.

At the moment which ever way you look at the figures Fuel Cells don't make sense.
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Old 03-04-2013, 05:26   #20
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Re: E FOY Fuel Cell Generator

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Efoy say only their grade of Methanol must be used!
Any idea what "grade" this might be? Standard commercial grade methanol from most suppliers is 99.9% guaranteed minimum purity but typical analysis is 99.95-99.99%. Water maximum 0.1% but typically half that in actual analysis. If the Efoy machine requires a tighter spec than this then I would be concerned that the machine is not very robust.



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The company also offers a 5 year warranty before the cells may need a major and very expensive service. I've seen suggestions of the cost at 3000$. This they say is after 4-5000 hours use. This high service cost makes Fuel Cells even less appealing than just the high fuel running costs and delivery costs.
So on top of an expensive purchase price, low output, high fuel costs you can expect up front that you will be paying close to $1.00/hour for maintenance and repair.



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At the moment which ever way you look at the figures Fuel Cells don't make sense.
Unless you have a very special application or a very big wallet. Certainly doesn't make any sense at all for me.
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Old 03-04-2013, 06:43   #21
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Re: E FOY Fuel Cell Generator

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If the Efoy machine requires a tighter spec than this then I would be concerned that the machine is not very robust.
Oh, I highly doubt that the unit requires anything more than standard grade. What they are most concerned with is that you buy it from them, and them only. Having their logo on the container is the most important requirement, as far as they are concerned.
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Old 03-04-2013, 07:19   #22
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Re: E FOY Fuel Cell Generator

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Oh, I highly doubt that the unit requires anything more than standard grade. What they are most concerned with is that you buy it from them, and them only. Having their logo on the container is the most important requirement, as far as they are concerned.
Based on what I know about methanol this is certainly my assumption. Just another way for the manufacturer to screw the customer.

It is pretty common in the chemical industry for companies to sell some expensive, "special" product which on close examination is just some cheap chemical with "Magic FooFoo Dust" added. MFFD being something benign like blue food coloring that can turn ammonia and detergent into expensive "window cleaner".
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Old 03-04-2013, 07:46   #23
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Re: E FOY Fuel Cell Generator

All awesome points guys... for giggles-- I think I am going to write a note to the Sale Staff at eFoy for giggles--- and see if there is anything I am missing before I totally put this idea in the "WTF" bin forever...
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Old 03-04-2013, 09:12   #24
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Re: E FOY Fuel Cell Generator

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If the Efoy machine requires a tighter spec than this then I would be concerned that the machine is not very robust.
Probably not quite ready for primetime. There's an interesting paper here (http://www.methanol.org/Energy/Resou...ty-Report.aspx) on just this question. The paper is by an alternative fuel cell vendor (although they got tax dollars to pay for the study) and deals with a reformer catalyst fuel cell rather than the direct methanol variety sold by EFoy. I suspect, however, that the results apply similarly - that contaminants in the methanol supply can poison the fuel cell catalyst, reducing life of the equipment and output from the equipment.

If you read through the paper commercial methanol from a source close to the point of production did just fine, but methanol from a commercial fuel source at a retail distribution location resulted in 14x contamination of the catalyst. Even more telling, the addition of Bitrex (a bittering agent required to be added in some jurisdictions so you won't drink the stuff) caused nearly immediate and irreversible catalyst poisoning.

The thrust of the paper is that both fuel cell technology and supply chain need to develop before you can just go out on the street and pick up methanol. We all accept that certain chemicals will rapidly destroy our watermaker membranes, if the fuel cell manufacturers would just tell us what those chemicals are in their case we could source our own fuels. Only a matter of time as the industry matures. The current price from EFoy is very reminiscent of printer ink, pure methanol just isn't that expensive.
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Old 03-04-2013, 09:42   #25
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Re: E FOY Fuel Cell Generator

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Originally Posted by Dsanduril View Post
Probably not quite ready for primetime. There's an interesting paper here (http://www.methanol.org/Energy/Resou...ty-Report.aspx) on just this question. The paper is by an alternative fuel cell vendor (although they got tax dollars to pay for the study) and deals with a reformer catalyst fuel cell rather than the direct methanol variety sold by EFoy. I suspect, however, that the results apply similarly - that contaminants in the methanol supply can poison the fuel cell catalyst, reducing life of the equipment and output from the equipment.

If you read through the paper commercial methanol from a source close to the point of production did just fine, but methanol from a commercial fuel source at a retail distribution location resulted in 14x contamination of the catalyst. Even more telling, the addition of Bitrex (a bittering agent required to be added in some jurisdictions so you won't drink the stuff) caused nearly immediate and irreversible catalyst poisoning.

The thrust of the paper is that both fuel cell technology and supply chain need to develop before you can just go out on the street and pick up methanol. We all accept that certain chemicals will rapidly destroy our watermaker membranes, if the fuel cell manufacturers would just tell us what those chemicals are in their case we could source our own fuels. Only a matter of time as the industry matures. The current price from EFoy is very reminiscent of printer ink, pure methanol just isn't that expensive.
There is certainly the potential for significant variation in quality buying chemicals on a commercial scale. Regarding methanol specifically, some suppliers' product will meet HPLC (high performance liquid chromatography) specs right out of the tank. Some is not as good.

The real kicker is even if you buy directly from the manufacturer you don't always know what you're getting as it is quite common in the industry for sellers to swap product, even manufacturers. Large sellers will often comingle product from different sources in one storage tank to further confuse the issue.

So if the catalyst or some other part of a fuel cell is sensitive to some contaminant, then yes, until we know what it is, as a consumer we are shooting in the dark. And I'm sure your warranty will be canceled the first drop of non-approved methanol that goes into the unit.
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Old 03-04-2013, 09:43   #26
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Re: E FOY Fuel Cell Generator

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All awesome points guys... for giggles-- I think I am going to write a note to the Sale Staff at eFoy for giggles--- and see if there is anything I am missing before I totally put this idea in the "WTF" bin forever...
I did that this morning and they confirmed the service cost after 5000 hrs as 2000 euros - and they added this will not make it a new unit so they recommend buying a new one!!!!

Efoy E-mail:
"The EFOY Comfort is designed for private use in motor homes. With an estimated lifetime of approximately 5000 h the EFOY fuel cell lasts for up to 10 years assuming average use of the motor home and average use of the fuel cell of approximately 300 to 500 charging hours per year.

After 5000 h the risk of a defective component or power decrease of the stack is high. A replacement of a defective component costs 200-600 €. If the stack reaches his limit, an exchange of a stack usually includes an exchange of several other components and ends up in costs of 1500 to 2000 €. After this repair it is not a new unit. Therefore we usually recommend also replacing the whole unit after reaching the fuel cells lifetiime.

Kai Steckmann
Leiter Kundenservice
Head of Customer Service"

Their figure of 500 charging hours per year seems very very low. With the 210 I would need to replace 150 Ah/day on my boat – with battery inefficiencies of 30% (put in 130 Ah to actually achieve a rise of 100Ah into the battery) then I would need 195 Ah/day. This is not unusual for most boats. When actually sailing my needs would be 250Ah day.

So it would appear my Fuel Cell would be charging almost continually, so the lifetime of 5000 hours divided by 24 hrs = 200 days, and then my cell needs 2000 Euros of service!
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Old 03-04-2013, 11:46   #27
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Re: E FOY Fuel Cell Generator

Maybe I read this wrong-- but the "Fuel CELL" means the UNIT or the Methanol? I am really choking on the "recommendation" from this Customer Service guy... Really sounds like a flippant answer from him SailingLegend... As in all things-- us sailors always find a way to DIY-- I would think this device would NOT outsmart us.

@Skipmac= For giggles-- I actually found multiple sources in Dallas/Fort Worth for Methanol for $15-25 a 5gal container... They provided a COA (Certificate of Analysis) upon my request-- only because I wanted to validate the quality of materials. Most of the petroleum companies scoffed at me-- as the salesman usually sells 6,000 gal containers-- and he considers this 'small'.... lol... Apparently-- race cars, hobbyists, and misc Chemical Labs use smaller amounts of Methanol consistently-- hence why they break it up into smaller segments for the 'C' Market end users. All that being said-- still there is the break-even MATH to be done on such a purchase-- even as a back-up system, is nutso off "MY" affordability charts... (still playing the lotto weekly though-- some fool has to win-- might as well be a sailing fool!!)
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Old 03-04-2013, 12:30   #28
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Re: E FOY Fuel Cell Generator

Yes the fuel cell is the unit that converts a fuel to electricity. The fuel in this case is the methanol.

I can guess the big distributors might scoff (politely I hope) at an order for a gallon or so. Methanol compared to a lot of other solvents and chemicals is pretty darn cheap, roughly 1/3 the cost of acetone for example, so hard to make much even on a tank truck. Also most distributors don't even have anything smaller than a 55 gallon drum. You have to go to a lab supply or specialty company for that 5 gallon size.

But as you noticed, methanol is very easy to find. One of the largest volume industrial chemicals in the world. A lot of the chemicals that are methyl something will use methanol as one of the raw materials, like methyl acrylate, methyl bromide, dimethyl formamide.
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Old 06-04-2013, 22:46   #29
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Re: E FOY Fuel Cell Generator

going to put the efoy on our boat, probably next winter. Basically to power a (future installed refrigeration system) to keep it running between uses.

No place to put panels on our boat that wouldn't look like crap, and don't want to run wires through the deck.

Seems like a good, although not inexpensive, solution.

However it is easy to install and does not take away from the ascetics of the boat. It does not run all the time, just when the battery gets low..charges it, then shuts off.

seems like a decent compromise. For my situation, it is a far better fit than solar or wind.

I do know an owner that has this, and has been using it for several seasons and is beyond thrilled with the performance.
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Old 07-04-2013, 00:48   #30
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Re: E FOY Fuel Cell Generator

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....Seems like a good, although not inexpensive, solution.....
I do hope you've done your costings correctly.

Maine Sail came up with fuel costs of 15$ for 80Ah, that includes the shipping costs - that's 1.5$ per hour for the largest unit. They last only 5000 hrs and cost about 5000$ and only last a year - so thats another 1$ per hour.

TOTAL running costs 2.5$ per hour - 10 hours a day or more - 25$ per day just to charge your batteries or run your fridge?
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