Is This (Finally…) the Future of Energy?

We heard a lot about fuel cells starting a decade or so ago, then the novelty wore off, media attention died down, and we moved on to other things. Those who have been paying attention, though, have followed the success of companies such as Fuel Cell Energy and Bloom Energy and hoped to see real-life fuel cell technology “trickle down” to smaller installations and more mainstream applications.

Well, there’s some interesting news just out.  Right here in our own backyard, Redox Power, in collaboration with the University of Maryland (Fear the Turtle!) has announced they will bring to market in 2014 a new fuel cell product.  While not yet at the individual household scale, it’s certainly a step in the right direction, and just might be a realistic solution for light commercial or multi-family residential use.

Oh, and it looks fabulous, too!  If they would just turn off the boy-racer neon lights…

For those not in the know, fuel cell technology promises higher efficiency, reduced emissions, a better way to manage distributed power generation (which lowers or eliminates transmission losses), and the potential to switch to entirely renewable sources of energy in the near future.

For the real geeks, here’s an in-depth look at pros and cons, here is a more accessible look at the upside only, and start here for an explanation of the technology behind solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs).


Philip Anderson is a founding principal at Studio Laan, a Washington, DC-based architecture and design studio.