Green Fuel
1st April 2007

Really green fuel from Shelsley Watermill. The restoration of the mill has always been intended to provide an educational resource, but the Society has been on the lookout for other ideas for using this fascinating old building. Now we have found an alternative use for the water power that the mill can provide.

Very early on in the restoration work we discussed the possibility of generating electricity from the waterwheel. Generating electricity is straightforward but generating electricity for distribution requires expensive control equipment, with costs disproportionate to the amount of power we can generate with the available water.

If we use the power internally, however, we can avoid these costs. That would provide all the lighting we are likely to need, but we wanted to do more than that.

An old TV series gave us the idea. Hydrogen used as fuel has no emissions other than water. The problem with hydrogen as a 'green' fuel is the power needed to produce the gas in the first place. It follows then, that if we feed the electricity from the waterwheel into electrolysis we can split water into hydrogen and oxygen and then burn the hydrogen as fuel in a suitably adapted engine. We need to store the hydrogen that is produced but there is an unused septic tank in the bank alongside the mill that we can adapt.

We are pretty confident that if we start today we can have a hill-climb car running on hydrogen by the 1st of April next year.

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