Is there a link between fuel cells and palladium price rise? : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Has anyone heard any rumblings about palladium and its connection with hydrogen fuel cell technology? As I noted on the earlier palladium thread, I've picked up rumblings -- rumors, nothing more and TIFWIW -- about a new fuel-cell energy source that will be announced in a few months that explains the recent meteoric rise in palladium prices. The result, according to one source, would be a "dumping of oil." Any additional news would be welcome. Didn't we once have a regular here who works for a fuel-cell company in Canada?

-- Cash (, February 23, 2000


Don't know about palladium, although I suspect it's looked at for some purposes. The following is from the web site:

For example, as recently as 1980 the amount of platinum (used as a catalyst) needed for a 7 kW fuel cell cost $9,000! However today, due to improved methods of applying platinum, much less is required and the cost is down to approximately $50 for the same size fuel cell.

It's not unimaginable that palladium would also be used as a catalyst. I question the "dumping of oil" statement. It will take some time several years to begin to sell enough fuel cell powered cars (and homes) to make a dent in the use of oil. Once that happens (2005?) people will replace things gradually.

Check out:

for information on two of the more advanced fuel cell companies.

-- rocky (rknolls@no.spam), February 23, 2000.

Palladium was used in the Flischeman-Pons Cold Fusion experiments at University of Utah. I think there is still some interest in this poo- pooed source of thermal energy. Maybe someone has made a true breakthrough?

-- PHO (, February 23, 2000.

Sad to say, folks, but at this point, a fuel cell will save NO oil, and will actually use more fuel than conventional electricity. It may, in the future, be used in place of conventional batteries in autos, and in solar systems. For now, though, the ones I've seen on the market are merely converting propane or natural gas into electricity. You've still gotta have the propane or natural gas.

-- jumpoff joe a.k.a. Al K. Lloyd (, February 23, 2000.

It's not a demand-side problem it's a supply-side problem. Russia was the supplier of 80% of the world's palladium. Now it's not supplying any. Not surprising the price goes up. Same with Platinum, but the Russians are less dominant with that metal so the price effect is smaller.

Palladium was used in auto catalysts instead of platinum because it was cheaper. Now it's not any more, they're doubtless switching metals as fast as they can. But changing production techniques takes time, so in the short term the Palladium price spikes. Long-term I'd expect it to once again become Platinum's dowdier cousin.

-- Nigel (, February 24, 2000.

Jump off,

Better do your homework.

The benefit of fuel cells is that you don't have to use a petroleum based product. Any hydrogen source will do. Yes, some fuel cells are made to run off of natural gas, etc., but there are other rich sources. These include methanol, which can be manufactured from coal (or wood, which would get the tree huggers excited). Seems the world has hundreds of years supply of coal.

Another methanol advantage is that it can be distributed exactly like gasoline -- except that it's less flamable. The cost to convert an existing storage tank at a gas station is moderate. Home tanks are feasible for supplying hydrogen for electrical purposes.

-- rocky (rknolls@no.spam), February 24, 2000.

Oh, by the way, Joe, fuel cells produce DC, so that they probably will be used to charge batteries, not in place of batteries.

Look through the power plug'll find that they incorporate batteries and an inverter. They need the inverter to get to AC, but they have long recognized that operation using stored energy (batteries) is the most efficient method of operation. That way they don't need to size the unit for peak output, but can size it for average. Big difference.

-- rocky (rknolls@no.spam), February 24, 2000.

Regarding cold fusion, I recall reading recently that a company called SRI has replicated the original cold-fusion experiment, with positive results. If palladium is part of that process, and IF (big if) it actually works, that would help explain the sudden market interest. Also, I hear that automakers are stockpiling it at any price because Russia, the major producer, keeps playing around with supplies and palladium is crucial for catalytic converters.

-- Cash (, February 24, 2000.

Rocky, I HAVE done my homework.And I think that your statement "better do your homework" is patronizing.

Sure, a fuel cell will operate on any convenient source of hydrogen, but unfortunately, there aren't any. Yes, there is hydrogen in methanol. Also ethanol. And many other things. But almost all of them require energy to manufacture or convert to hydrogen. I've never heard of using methanol made from coal. How much energy does it take to convert it?

Ethanol is an interesting possibility. Ethanol, as I suppose you are aware, can be made from many products which we are currently paying farmers not to grow. But even with ethanol, we will still have the carbon to deal with. Would we deal with it like we do the carbon in petroleum products currently? Or would we somehow make methanol out of it? This is starting to sound like a perpetual motion scam to me.

I know that fuel cells produce D.C. power. And that this power is SOMETIMES stored in batteries. But listen, Bucko, there are other situations out there than someone who is so good at doing his/her homework seems to be aware of.

The way fuel cells will likely be used in place of batteries is in automobiles. Also in any use which currently converts kinetic energy into heat energy, as the brakes on cars and truck do.

Imagine an electric car. It has a DC motor. This motor, natually, will also funciton as a generator. Instead of riding its brakes when coming to a stop sign, or down a long grade, the motor is used as a generator to slow down the vehicle. The power produced, rather than being waste heat, is DC power, which is used to electrolize water into hydrogen and oxygen. When the car reaccelerates, the hydrogen and oxygen are recombined in the fuel cell to create electrical power, which powers the DC motor. No batteries, no inverters, no shit.

Look at the data on fuel cells for residential use. The manufacturers brag about 40-45% efficiency. What a joke! If you crunch some numbers, you will see that this provides very expensive electricity.

They still have along way to go. Maybe they can launch a space freighter to retreive hydrogen from the sun.

Do your homework, Bucko.

-- jumpoff joe a.k.a. Al K. Lloyd (, February 24, 2000.

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