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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2251

Sri Lankans fight to defeat fuel prices

Sunil C. Perera- Reporting from Colombo

Colombo, 13 September, ( Sri Lankans are now engaged to defeat the fuel price increase, while two local fuel distributors increase their fuel prices regularly.

However local researchers say using of alcohol would minimize fuel cost, but motorists are fear to use these new fuel varieties. Recently the government has introduced alcohol mixed fuel to run three wheelers, but three wheeler drivers say it will reduces their engine's life span.

Meanwhile worlds leading auto manufacturers use fuel cell concept to run vehicles. A number of auto giants say that they could switch on their new fuel cell vehicles without any trouble.

Speaking to media, Chairman of the Sugarcane Research InstituteDr.C.S.Weeraratne said Sri Lanka should adopt alternative power and energy resources to reduce fuel imports.

According to the leading auto manufacturers a fuel cell is an electrochemical device that combines hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity, with water and heat as its by-product. As long as fuel is supplied, the fuel cell will continue to generate power. Since the conversion of the fuel to energy takes place via an electrochemical process, not combustion, the process is clean, quiet and highly efficient – two to three times more efficient than fuel burning.

No other energy generation technology offers the combination of benefits that fuel cells do. In addition to low or zero emissions, benefits include high efficiency and reliability, multi-fuel capability, sitting flexibility, durability, sand ease of maintenance.

Fuel cells are also scalable and can be stacked until the desired power output is reached. Since fuel cells operate silently, they reduce noise pollution as well as air pollution and the waste heat from a fuel cell can be used to provide hot water or space heating for
a home or office. In principle, a fuel cell operates like a battery. Unlike a battery, a fuel cell does not run down or require recharging. It will produce energy in the form of electricity and heat as long as fuel is supplied.

A fuel cell consists of two electrodes sandwiched around an electrolyte. Oxygen passes over one electrode and hydrogen over the other, generating electricity, water and heat.
Hydrogen fuel is fed into the "anode" of the fuel cell. Oxygen (or air) enters the fuel cell through the cathode. Encouraged by a catalyst, the hydrogen atom splits into a proton and an electron, which take different paths to the cathode. The proton passes through the electrolyte. The electrons create a separate current that can be utilized before they return to the cathode, to be reunited with the hydrogen and oxygen in a molecule of water.
A fuel cell system which includes a "fuel reformer" can utilize the hydrogen from any hydrocarbon fuel - from natural gas to methanol, and even gasoline. Since the fuel cell relies on chemistry and not combustion, emissions from this type of a system would still be much smaller than emissions from the cleanest fuel combustion processes.

The Energy research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN) in Pettenhasm built the first car to be powered by a Dutch fuel cell system. The key component, the PEM fuel cell stack, has been developed entirely in Petten. The car itself is a modified version of an existing electric service vehicle, the DaimlerChrysler GEM. The standard GEM is powered by a traction battery, the capacity of which restricts the car's operating range and necessitates regular and lengthy recharging from the mains. But the new version developed by ECN and christened the HydroGEM has a far greater range and can be refueled quickly.

The fuel cell produces sufficient power to supply electricity to utensils such as electric tools as well. The HydroGEM is quiet and extremely clean, making it suitable for use at airports, railway stations, distribution centres and other industrial locations, not to mention on nature reserves and even in hospitals.

According to Frank de Bruijn, unit manager Hydrogen & Clean Fossil
Fuels, the main purpose of the HydroGEM at this stage is to investigate how the fuel cell technology developed at ECN performs in practice. "Our own General Services Department starts using the HydroGEM this autumn," he explains, "making it the first Dutch hydrogen vehicle to enter operational service." Compared with battery-powered vehicles, the HydroGEM has a considerably wider operating range. Lengthy recharging periods are also a thing of the past. Refuelling with hydrogen takes no more than ten minutes. The vehicle has an electronically limited maximum speed of 40kph and a payload of up to 400kg. The propulsion system developed by ECN consists of a 5kWe fuel cell, which is used in combination with the original 6.5kWh battery pack. The hydrogen is stored in a 76-litre tank at a pressure of 200 bar. That is sufficient fuel to enlarge its range to at least 200km.

- Asian Tribune -

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