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Ergenics is developing a metal hydride heat engine that converts solar hot water into electricity for an estimated cost of less than 1¢ per kilowatt hour. The solar panels produce hot water which is pumped to a hydrogen compressor, that compresses a gas that is then expanded in a hydraulic motor-generator set that produces electricity.
The technology has a multitude of other applications and iterations.
The company's slogan is "Solid State Hydrogen Energy Solutions", though many of their device iterations now involve moving parts.
While earlier version of the technology were not cost-effective, the company has improved its processes by about 100-fold, making it very attractive.
The Hydride-hydrogen process is a closed loop system, hermetically sealed. It is essentially an external combustion engine.
- Download (55 min; 13 Mb; mp3) - On March 31, 2007, Ken Rasumussen conducted a live interview with Ergenics CEO, Mark Golben on the Free Energy Now radio show. Golben has been with the company since it commenced 20 years ago. The company president, David Decasa (sp?), was also in on the interview.
The Company's technology is protected by over 30 U.S. and foreign patents.
Electric Generator Video
"Electricity from hot water? Absolutely! This simple hydride heat engine prototype starts generating electricity the moment the hydride heat exchangers are dipped into hot and cold water."
"Based on the ability of reversible metal hydride alloys to compress hydrogen, this hydride water pump uses the energy from solar heated water to operate a well in Del Rio, Texas."
Video shows two buckets of water -- one hot, the other cold. As the two leads from the Ergenics aparatus are immersed into the two buckets, the temperature differential drives a turbine, powering a generator that powers the light.
Quoting from http://www.ergenics.com/page20.htm
"Ergenics has developed technologies that use hydrogen as a working fluid to improve performance, conserve energy, and reduce pollution for a number of applications. Potential development partners should contact us regarding product commercialization for your market interests."
Solar Powered Electric Generator
"Ergenics' Hydride Heat Engine captures the Sun's energy with simple, efficient and cost effective solar hot water panels.
"The hydride heat engine is comprised of solar hot water panels, a fan cooler or radiator, a hydride-based hydrogen compressor and a hydraulic motor-generator set.
"The solar panels produce hot water using energy from the sun. The most economical use of solar energy is making hot water and flat plate solar collectors have been available for more than thirty years. The hot water is pumped to the hydrogen compressor, which is the heart of the system; it converts the thermal energy in hot water into work energy by compressing a gas. The compressed gas is expanded in a hydraulic motor-generator set that produces electricity, after which it returns to the compressor.
"The compressor works by, first, absorbing hydrogen gas directly into a metal material, thus forming an alloy of the metal and hydrogen called a "metal hydride". This process occurs at ambient temperature and generates some heat, which is rejected to the ambient air via the fan cooler. The metal hydride material is contained within patented very-high-surface-area heat exchangers which are alternately heated and cooled by recirculating water.
"After the hydrogen has been fully absorbed and the heat exchanger cooled, hot water from the flat plate solar collectors is circulated through the heat exchangers. The elevated temperature increases the hydrogen pressure inside of the heat exchangers at an exponential rate. Multiple stages of compression designed with appropriate alloys can produce very high pressures using low temperature heat. The high pressure hydrogen is then passed through a hydraulic motor-generator set, which spins to produce electricity, before returning to the compressor in its initial, uncompressed state.
"This compression/expansion heat engine cycle can be repeated indefinitely. In this way, the hydrogen gas is simply a "working fluid" that is neither created nor consumed, but only pressurized and expanded. The hydraulic fluid provides a convenient, economical and leak-free method of harnessing the work energy in the gas."
Hydride Heat Engines
"create useful work from low grade heat sources"
"Energy for this hydride water pump is supplied by hot water-type solar collectors."
"Hydride heat engines use the heat from hot water to compress hydrogen. The hydrogen is then expanded through a magnetically coupled piston to produce usable work."
- http://www.ergenics.com/page24.htm - Hydride Heat Engines
- http://www.ergenics.com/hydpmp.wmv - video clip "Based on the ability of reversible metal hydride alloys to compress hydrogen, this hydride water pump uses the energy from solar heated water to operate a well in Del Rio, Texas."
Hydrogen Storage Systems
"Solid-State Hydrogen Storage based on reversible metal hydrides offers several benefits over other means of storing hydrogen. Reversible metal hydrides operate at low pressure, especially when compared to compressed hydrogen, and do not need to be kept at the cryogenic temperatures required for liquid hydrogen storage. Reversible hydride storage typically requires less energy on a system basis, is compact, and can be conformable to fit space available on the application.
"Hydrogen storage systems range in size from small to large. Ergenics has made small storage units that provide fuel for hydrogen fuel cells."
See http://www.ergenics.com/page2.htm - Hydrogen Storage Systems
Hy-Stor® Segmented Battery
"Combines high cycle satellite battery technology with high density hydrogen storage in metal hydrides.
"This 75 Volt, 1.2 kWh bipolar battery module forms the building block for Hybrid Electric bus and truck batteries.
"The Hy-Stor® Segmented Battery is a rechargeable battery being developed for hybrid electric vehicle energy storage. It combines the remarkable energy storage capability of metal hydride alloys with the extraordinary cycle life and discharge rate capabilities of nickel-hydrogen cells. The Hy- Stor battery offers performance, economic and safety advantages that are superior to all other battery technologies."
See: http://www.ergenics.com/page15.htm - Hy-Stor® Segmented Battery
Metal Hydride Hydrogen Compressors
"Ergenics has been supplying metal hydride hydrogen compressors for a broad range of applications for over twenty years. Compression of hydrogen using reversible metal hydride alloys offers an economical alternative to traditional mechanical hydrogen compressors. Hydride compressors are compact, silent, do not have dynamic seals, require very little maintenance and can operate unattended for long periods. When powered by waste heat, energy consumption is only a fraction of that required for mechanical compression, which reduces the cost of hydrogen production."
See: http://www.ergenics.com/page19.htm - Metal Hydride Hydrogen Compressors
Cold Start Heater
"When a metal hydride absorbs hydrogen, heat is given off. Ergenics has developed a hydride Cold Start Heater that instantly heats an automobile's catalytic converter when the car is started to dramatically reduce overall exhaust pollution up to 80%. This technology can be used for other quick heat applications such as passenger compartment heating on cold winter days."
See: http://www.ergenics.com/page22.htm - Cold Start Heater
Metal Hydride Air Conditioner
"Heat is required for the release of hydrogen from a metal hydride. When the hydride takes its heat from ambient temperature air, the cooling effect of air conditioning is provided. Ergenics has constructed several hydride air conditioners which are powered solely by waste heat, operate passively and do not contain ozone-damaging Freon. Cycles for use in water chillers and window air conditioning have been developed."
Electrically powered hydride air conditioner prototype is a possible replacement for traditional mobile air conditioners. It does not contain materials with global warming potential and operates with more than twice the efficiency of today's automotive air conditioners.
See: http://www.ergenics.com/page23.htm - Metal Hydride Air Conditioner
Ergenics Hy-Stor® Metal Hydride Alloys
"Hydrogen (H2) is the most plentiful element in the universe. It has the highest energy per unit of weight of any chemical fuel and is non-polluting. As a compressed gas or cryogenic liquid, it is quite volatile and requires special handling."
See: http://www.ergenics.com/page12.htm - Ergenics Hy-Stor® Metal Hydride Alloys
"Ergenics has developed an on/off fire sprinkler that will reliably, repeatedly and quickly provide a large amount of water on a fire and will automatically turn off the water when the fire is extinguished. The sprinkler is based on metal hydride sensor/actuator technology. When the metal hydride coil is exposed to the heat of a fire, the gas pressure developed is used to open the water valve. The temperature of operation can be varied by alloy selection. The process is reversed as the hydrogen is re-absorbed by the cool hydride after the fire is extinguished. This greatly reduces the water damage typically caused by a conventional "one-shot" fire sprinklers. Because Ergenics' fire sprinkler turns the water off when the temperature drops, pressure in the water main is maintained and the sprinkler is ready to reactivate in case the fire rekindles."
See: http://www.ergenics.com/page21.htm - Temperature Sensor-Actuators
Linear Motion -- how it works
"When heat is applied to a metal hydride container, the stored hydrogen is released from the alloy under pressure. The gas pressure pushes a piston, creating a powerful linear motion in a mechanical system. In the same way, when the container is cooled, the hydrogen reenters the metal hydride causing linear motion of the piston in the opposite direction. The pressure of the hydrogen gas is proportional to the metal hydride temperature, so precise positioning of a bellows or piston can be achieved by controlling the hydride temperature.
"Hydride temperature sensor-actuators are suited for applications that require large force in response to changing temperature. For example, hydride actuators generate enough force to automatically open and/or close valves.
See: http://www.ergenics.com/page21.htm - Temperature Sensor-Actuators
"Energenics' Hydride Cold Start Heater invention was a finalist in the 1996 National Medal Of Technology Award sponsored by Discover Magazine which is the highest honor awarded by the President of the United States of America for technological innovation." 
Company: HERA, Hydrogen Storage Systems Inc.
Quoting from http://www.ergenics.com/page25.htm
"In the 1970's, INCO Limited initiated a program in basic energy research. Using its experience in alloy development, INCO concentrated on solid state hydrogen storage using metal hydrides. In 1978, INCO formalized their alternative energy development efforts into one company, Ergenics.
"Ergenics was spun off as a private company in 1984. In addition to developing and supplying solid state hydrogen storage systems, Ergenics explored metal hydride applications that used hydrogen as a working fluid, not just an energy source. The result is a collection of efficient, cost effective technologies ranging from high power, high cycle life nickel hydrogen batteries to electric automobile air conditioners.
"Ergenics became the HERA USA subsidiary of HERA, Hydrogen Storage Systems Inc. of Longueuil, Quebec, Canada in 2003. It was subsequently acquired by its management team in April, 2006.
"Ergenics has a highly qualified staff with extensive experience in electrochemistry, metallurgy and thermodynamics. Ergenics is located in the beautiful foothills of the Appalachian chain, less than one hour from New York City."
The company is seeking to raise $3 million USD to ramp up the solar electricity technology into mass production, where the electricity generation using the system could then reach a price point of 1 cent/kW-h.
In the News
- Google News > Ergenics - no recent stories, as of March 21, 2007
- Ergenics Announces Advanced Electric Vehicle Battery - Ergenics is initially targeting its application to the market for electric ... Ergenics, believes that, eventually, the hybrid electric vehicle will prove ... (The Auto Channel; 10/23/96)
- Metal-hydride system heats catalytic converters - ...Because Ergenics has a patent pending on their hydride production process, ... But he claims Ergenics' proprietary metal alloy resists the tendency of ... (Design News; 8/28/1995)
- Google > Ergenics - 684 returns as of March 21, 2007
- Ergenics Hydride Solutions - Ergenics Hydride Solutions specialises in hydrogen energy storage and utilisation. The company is manufacturing solid state hydrogen storage units, standard and customized vessels and reversible metal hydride devices for hydrogen storage (incl. thermal hydrogen compressors, nickel-hydrogen rechargeable batteries, heat storage, heat pumps for air conditioning and refrigeration, heat engines). (Fuel Cell Today)
HERA USA Inc.
373 Margaret King Ave.
Ringwood, NJ 07456
phone: (973) 728-8815; Fax: (973) 728-8864
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