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Old 26-05-2022, 01:34   #1
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New fuel cell. Does it change the math?

So I an in the process of updating my electrical system if I can ever get the yard to engage on the project. A rough costing of that system which includes 800Ah LFP batteries, bms, new alternator, wind gen, and extras, is about 35000 euro with labour.

The system criteria are 4 week autonomy assuming 1kWh/day consumption though often the sailing is between plug-in opportunities, two distinct charging systems for off the grid, low maintenance, suitable for Northern Europe and without spoiling the lines of the boat.

I’m happy with the plan but with the yard not cooperating I started thinking about alternatives that would be easier and cheaper for me to do myself and I stumbled across a new EFOY fuel cell: the pro 2800 and it seems to change the math a bit on my reasoning for not going the fuel cell route.

The relevant information is:
Capital cost of cell and extras 7500euro
Capital cost of 210Ah of EFOY LFP batteries 3500euro
Extras 5000euro
Output. 125W=3kWh/day
Output after 6000h 87W=2kWh/day
Consumption. 0.9l/kWh=8euro/kWh

What has changed from earlier models is the output and the lifespan. For my purposes this new unit looks like it will last 10000h and in each of those hours it produces 170% of the energy of the EFOY 150. That 150 unit ouputs 75W new but only 43W after 3000h.

From my system specs that means it’s done after it delivers roughly 3000*60= 180kWh of energy to my boat as it doesn’t produce enough after 3000 hr to be useful.

Compare that with the new unit that will deliver roughly 10000*85=850kWh and one sees that the lifespan of the 2800 pro unit in my application is nearly 5 times that of the 150 and if only costs about 2000 euro more. So the amortized cost of the old unit was 5000/180=28euro per kWh whereas for the new unit it is 7000/850=8euro per KWh.

That makes the total cost of energy from the new system 16euro per kWh compared to 36euro per kWh. That’s an effective 56% reduction in the price of energy from EFOY fuel cells. Now consider that the capital cost of installation is also less that half what the alternative is and I’m wondering whether to switch tactics here.

For instance, the wind gen I’m considering produces energy over its life at a cost of about 1euro per kWh assuming all its energy is used and 2euro per KWh assuming half is dumped, while the engine does so at about 20 euro per kWh only counting the cost of fuel and more like 30 euro per kWh if you include all the extra wear running the engine purely for charging. 16euro per kWh all in looks pretty good for a system that is cheaper to install and will last me decades (remember mostly cruising between plugs)

So has the fuel cell finally arrived for cruising?
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Old 26-05-2022, 04:52   #2
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Re: New full cell. Does it change the math?

Where will you purchase the methanol enroute? Doesn't seem like it would be readily available at most ports and towns.

How often does the cell have to be filled, Looks like you will be pouring methanol from a container into a tank while onboard. How do you do this in heavy weather will lots of boat motion. Seems somewhat risky.

Where will it live onboard. Doesn't seem like it could live where you would normally place the batteries. I guess I would want a vented lazarette.

Since the product is made for yachting I guess it would meet and/or exceed the shock and vibration loads of heavy weather sailing.

Just playing devils advocate here...
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Old 26-05-2022, 05:01   #3
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Re: New full cell. Does it change the math?

As soon as I understood fuel cells it seemed to me that they would be our future batteries. Not only are they good in this application but the hydrogen ones I looked at would produce both ways so they could store electricity from wind and solar and would be able to release it when needed.

Worth the work to figure it out in my mind.
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Old 26-05-2022, 05:14   #4
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Re: New full cell. Does it change the math?

To amplify LakeSuperior’s comments, you will be using about 10 Liters of methanol a week. Where on board are you going to store this? And how? Methanol is at least as flammable as gasoline. It’s very dangerous stuff to handle on a boat. How much will you need to store in a proper flammable locker to have the off-the-grid time you need?

The unit itself needs to be stored in a place that is fully ignition protected, and very well ventilated (it produces a lot of waste heat).

I am also not terrible impressed with the overall efficiency. At full load, my DC Generator makes 4.3kW using 2.5 liters/hour of diesel, or about 1.7kW-hr/liter. The spec on this fuel cell when new is 11.1 kW-hrs per 10 liters of MeOH, 1.1 kW-hrs/liter.

I’d not buy a boat with this system. It seems (at best) suitable for short weekend trips, not long range cruising where you need to be self-sufficient for the long term.
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Old 26-05-2022, 05:23   #5
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Re: New full cell. Does it change the math?

Thanks ItDepends I was too lazy to run the numbers. Also, need to keep in mind that the energy density of diesel is double that of methanol, 45 mJ/kg versus 22.4 mJ/kg.

However, methanol fuel cells are currently 30 to 40 percent efficient in converting methanol. Perhaps marginally better than a diesel powered generator at maybe 30%
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Old 26-05-2022, 05:45   #6
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Re: New full cell. Does it change the math?

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Originally Posted by LakeSuperior View Post
Where will you purchase the methanol enroute? Doesn't seem like it would be readily available at most ports and towns.

How often does the cell have to be filled, Looks like you will be pouring methanol from a container into a tank while onboard. How do you do this in heavy weather will lots of boat motion. Seems somewhat risky.

Where will it live onboard. Doesn't seem like it could live where you would normally place the batteries. I guess I would want a vented lazarette.

Since the product is made for yachting I guess it would meet and/or exceed the shock and vibration loads of heavy weather sailing.

Just playing devils advocate here...
Always good to play devils advocate. The fuel is readily accessible everywhere in Europe which is mostly where I sail and can be had in North and central America as well which is the only other place I am considering cruising. With engine charging and plugging in Iíll only be using maybe 0.5l per day of methanol on average so about 3 10l bottles every couple of months. Itís easily possible to carry a years supply aboard.

Itís apparently fine to vent then to the bilge. Iíll vent mine to the engine room where I have a blower to the outside, but the heat, CO2 and water wonít do any harm in the engine compartment anyway. It will live in it he huge battery box I have aboardÖ
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Old 26-05-2022, 06:14   #7
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Re: New full cell. Does it change the math?

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Originally Posted by ItDepends View Post
To amplify LakeSuperior’s comments, you will be using about 10 Liters of methanol a week. Where on board are you going to store this? And how? Methanol is at least as flammable as gasoline. It’s very dangerous stuff to handle on a boat. How much will you need to store in a proper flammable locker to have the off-the-grid time you need?

The unit itself needs to be stored in a place that is fully ignition protected, and very well ventilated (it produces a lot of waste heat).

I am also not terrible impressed with the overall efficiency. At full load, my DC Generator makes 4.3kW using 2.5 liters/hour of diesel, or about 1.7kW-hr/liter. The spec on this fuel cell when new is 11.1 kW-hrs per 10 liters of MeOH, 1.1 kW-hrs/liter.

I’d not buy a boat with this system. It seems (at best) suitable for short weekend trips, not long range cruising where you need to be self-sufficient for the long term.
Diesel in the EU is currently 2euro a liter roughly so your generator is producing energy at very roughly 1euro per kWh. Maybe add another 2 euros to that for the maintenance costs of said generator. To install said generator, if you have space for it costs about 25000 euro. It maybe has a usable life of 10000h (being generous here) so over its life it will produce 40MWh of energy. So roughly 1euro/kWh in capital amoritization. With the odd breakage your looking at cost to you for the energy produced by your generator of 4euro/kWh give or take a euro.

But then that generator is heavy, noisy, smelly, more maintenance and environmentally unfriendly. To me paying an extra 12euro on the kWh to avoid all that seems like a good deal.

Finally, the EU is going to more or less ban ICE’s for private use by 2035-40 anyway so buying a generator whose lifespan is 25-30 years just seems like buying into obsolete tech whose fuel is going to get much more expensive and harder to find.
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Old 26-05-2022, 06:27   #8
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Re: New full cell. Does it change the math?

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Originally Posted by LakeSuperior View Post
However, methanol fuel cells are currently 30 to 40 percent efficient in converting methanol. Perhaps marginally better than a diesel powered generator at maybe 30%
It is unfortunate you think the diesel is 30% efficient. It is no where near this good on your small boat, especially with electricity as the output. A lot of people don't really just how much they waste.

there are 40.7 kwh per gallon of diesel. You can calculate how many amps going in your battery at particular burn rate do the math. For example, if you get 70 amp charge at 2 liters per hour, this is 1.6kwh. The efficiency from fuel to battery then is 4%.

The methanol fuel cells are more than twice as good as any generator possible.

Next... consider solar cost. You should consider solar as the dominant energy producer if you want to keep costs down, but also avoid the frustrations when other more complex systems fail. Solar panels are individually redundant making them incredibly reliable.

After solar, which could be enough on it's own, maybe consider wind and hydro generator before a fuel cell. Problem with the fuel cell is low round trip energy efficiency or specialized high-purity fuel. It makes more sense to produce hydrogen from excess solar, then burn the hydrogen in a catalytic stove for cooking than to try to turn it back to electricity at a low efficiency using an extremely expensive (platinum) catalyst that will get poisoned over time.
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Old 26-05-2022, 06:40   #9
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Re: New full cell. Does it change the math?

The points about the flammability and toxicity of methanol are well made. This is indeed my biggest concern with the system. So long as the relatively tough plastic canisters arenít punctured there shouldnít be a problem but s**t happens.

A leek into the bilge can be dealt with by pouring water in after the leak to dilute the methanol and then pump it overboard with the bilge pump. Messy but not that serious a problem.

A minor leek from a single canister that allows vaporization isnít that serious either as the vapor isnít pressurized and the amounts are small relative to the volume of the boat which is presumably ventilated. Surely not an explosion risk like lpg is.

The big problem is fire on board. That could melt the plastic canister thereby creating a fireball. So yes you would want to keep the methanol away from the engine compartment and galley and the spare canisters as far away from these potential fire sources as possible. In the gas locker, or lazerette is a good location. This has the advantage of any slow leaks venting outboard as well, though again I donít see that as a big issue. Itís no worse than keeping petrol in the lazerettw for the outboard and maybe better as the canisters come fully sealed.
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Old 26-05-2022, 06:41   #10
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Re: New full cell. Does it change the math?

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Originally Posted by seandepagnier View Post
It is unfortunate you think the diesel is 30% efficient. It is no where near this good on your small boat, especially with electricity as the output. A lot of people don't really just how much they waste.

there are 40.7 kwh per gallon of diesel. You can calculate how many amps going in your battery at particular burn rate do the math. For example, if you get 70 amp charge at 2 liters per hour, this is 1.6kwh. The efficiency from fuel to battery then is 4%.

The methanol fuel cells are more than twice as good as any generator possible.

Next... consider solar cost. You should consider solar as the dominant energy producer if you want to keep costs down, but also avoid the frustrations when other more complex systems fail. Solar panels are individually redundant making them incredibly reliable.

After solar, which could be enough on it's own, maybe consider wind and hydro generator before a fuel cell. Problem with the fuel cell is low round trip energy efficiency or specialized high-purity fuel. It makes more sense to produce hydrogen from excess solar, then burn the hydrogen in a catalytic stove for cooking than to try to turn it back to electricity at a low efficiency using an extremely expensive (platinum) catalyst that will get poisoned over time.


Sound reasoning and math.

Iíd go solar and do it yourself, OP. We cannot rely on outside contractors anymore to do work on anything. No idea why. Iím 4 months in now on trying to get a set of 5 fabricators to do a few things in my boat. 3 of those fabricators wonít return my calls and 2 are STILL saying ďnext weekĒ 4 months later.

It would have been faster for me to buy a welder and take a welding course.

Same with my truck. It spent 6 WEEKS in the shop to get a complete brake replacement done. They also lost my $600 starter sending it out for a rebuild and put an eBay $120 special on in its place.

I could have done that work in 4 days max, including rebuilding the starter.

The marine industry appears to be the same.
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Old 26-05-2022, 06:51   #11
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Re: New full cell. Does it change the math?

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Originally Posted by seandepagnier View Post
It is unfortunate you think the diesel is 30% efficient. It is no where near this good on your small boat, especially with electricity as the output. A lot of people don't really just how much they waste.

there are 40.7 kwh per gallon of diesel. You can calculate how many amps going in your battery at particular burn rate do the math. For example, if you get 70 amp charge at 2 liters per hour, this is 1.6kwh. The efficiency from fuel to battery then is 4%.

The methanol fuel cells are more than twice as good as any generator possible.

Next... consider solar cost. You should consider solar as the dominant energy producer if you want to keep costs down, but also avoid the frustrations when other more complex systems fail. Solar panels are individually redundant making them incredibly reliable.

After solar, which could be enough on it's own, maybe consider wind and hydro generator before a fuel cell. Problem with the fuel cell is low round trip energy efficiency or specialized high-purity fuel. It makes more sense to produce hydrogen from excess solar, then burn the hydrogen in a catalytic stove for cooking than to try to turn it back to electricity at a low efficiency using an extremely expensive (platinum) catalyst that will get poisoned over time.
Solar is undoubtedly the cheapest and most reliable charging source but it is difficult to do well on my boat. I would need about 300W to meet my needs and with my boats deck layout that would necessitate an arch and that would spoil her lines so no to meaningful solar. Wind I could do but then again it affects lines of the boat and potentially is a source of noise and requires a large battery to do well. Hydro is more interesting but it would need a large battery bank to bridge between sailings making it more expensive per kWh produced. They are also a hassle maintenance wise.

Absolutely there are cheaper and greener ways of doing onboard energy than a fuel cell, but for those who just want a discrete source of energy for when they are between ports, this new EFOY pro 2800 is pretty darn attractive.
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Old 26-05-2022, 06:56   #12
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Re: New full cell. Does it change the math?

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Sound reasoning and math.

Iíd go solar and do it yourself, OP. We cannot rely on outside contractors anymore to do work on anything. No idea why. Iím 4 months in now on trying to get a set of 5 fabricators to do a few things in my boat. 3 of those fabricators wonít return my calls and 2 are STILL saying ďnext weekĒ 4 months later.

It would have been faster for me to buy a welder and take a welding course.

Same with my truck. It spent 6 WEEKS in the shop to get a complete brake replacement done. They also lost my $600 starter sending it out for a rebuild and put an eBay $120 special on in its place.

I could have done that work in 4 days max, including rebuilding the starter.

The marine industry appears to be the same.
I just donít get it, donít people like money any more? Iíve got a bucket of money I want to spend on my hobby and there is literally no one who wants to take it from me. With what people are willing to pay for all things nautical I canít believe that people canít make a living off of working on boats.
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Old 26-05-2022, 07:08   #13
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Re: New full cell. Does it change the math?

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Originally Posted by Na Mara View Post
I just donít get it, donít people like money any more? Iíve got a bucket of money I want to spend on my hobby and there is literally no one who wants to take it from me. With what people are willing to pay for all things nautical I canít believe that people canít make a living off of working on boats.
In at least some industries where everything slowed down during COVID, people who put off projects are now wanting to do them all and catch up. So many of the contractors, etc. are busier than they know what to do with.
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Old 26-05-2022, 08:00   #14
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Re: New full cell. Does it change the math?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chotu View Post
Sound reasoning and math.

Iíd go solar and do it yourself, OP. We cannot rely on outside contractors anymore to do work on anything. No idea why. Iím 4 months in now on trying to get a set of 5 fabricators to do a few things in my boat. 3 of those fabricators wonít return my calls and 2 are STILL saying ďnext weekĒ 4 months later.

It would have been faster for me to buy a welder and take a welding course.
[...]
It sounds like you've been blacklisted amongst the local businesses as being a "somewhat more complicated" customer?
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Old 26-05-2022, 08:19   #15
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Re: New fuel cell. Does it change the math?

Sounds great OP do it.
I had no choice I bought a recent boat stored with only the Yanmar winterized for 2 winters. ( captain passed away)
Batteries faucets shower pump lost.
You can’t buy the latest and greatest because it’s coming out next month.
As to doing it yourself. I’ve taken on ridiculous jobs I had no business tackling. I’m not a mechanic. I enjoy building engines but I’d be a dumbass to try make a living at it. If you can make more money working at your trade don’t play backyard mechanic.
I use a Bosch liquid cooled Alternator and changed all the Yanmar 40 pulleys to anodized aluminum. Sweet set up. I wouldn’t recommend the Delco cause of parts or rebuilders. They have gone more air cooled on the big alts.
I had a nascar billet racing Alternator in a Donzi just to keep the 502 hot and cooled.
It’s way too much for a little diesel but impressive 2 speed clutch
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