A review of small stationary fuel cell performance

This working paper reviews the current technological status of fuel cells for small stationary installations, particularly domestic combined heat and power.  Four fuel cell technologies are reviewed:  polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells (PEM, PEMFC, PEFC, SPFC), solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC), phosphoric acid fuel cells (PAFC), and alkaline fuel cells (AFC).

Download the report here: A review of small stationary fuel cell performance (35 pages).

Older versions of the report are still available:

Putting TrueType (.ttf) fonts into Linpus on the Aspire One

While some people suggest that sticking with freeware fonts is better (for legal, moral, or personal reasons?) that is just bollocks.  OpenOffice comes with some reasonable fonts, but it is essential to be equipped with the universal standard fonts from Windows if you are going to work with other people on documents.

Here is how to install Windows TrueType fonts on Linpus.  It will make them usable in any application, for example Open Office 3…

  • Open the File Manager and browser to /home/user/
  • Create a new folder and call it .fonts
  • It won’t display in the file list, as it’s a hidden folder.  So in the address bar you will have to type /home/user/.fonts/
  • Copy over any TrueType fonts that you want to use  (e.g. Arial, Times New Roman, Verdana, Calibri, Cambria)
    • In Windows, these are probably located in C:\Windows\system32\Fonts\
  • You should now find them available in OpenOffice and other apps that you want…

There is one little problem I have found.  The lovely new Cambria font doesn’t work, displaying in OpenOffice as the default font with random characters missing.  I guessed this was because it comes as a TrueType Collection (.ttc) file, containing Cambria and Cambria Math.

  • To make it work, you need to extract the Cambria TTF font out of the TTC file – convert TTC to TTF.
  • Download a program called fontforge that can convert fonts between TTF, TTC, OTC, Mac, Bitmap and other formats.  An RPM is available for Linux distributions such as Fedora, e.g. fontforge-20081224-1.i386.rpm.
    • The must be saved to disk, rather than openned with the package manager, as Linpus decides that fontforge needs fontforge to be present before it can be installed.  Clever dependancy problem there.
  • Instead you need to open a terminal (ALT+F2, run “terminal”) in the directory you saved the rpm file to (probably /mnt/home/Downloads) and type:
    rpm -i fontforge-*.rpm
  • More details on installation are available from http://fontforge.sourceforge.net/nix-install.html
  • You then need to extract the Cambria TTF file from this TTC Collection.  The FontForge help pageswill give you the full information on how to do this, but here is the short version
    • You then need to open another terminal in the directory that the “CAMBRIA.TTC” file lives.  Then type the command:
      fontforge -c 'Open($1); Generate($2)' "CAMBRIA.TTC(Cambria) CAMBRIA.TTF
  • Now delete the TTC file, and copy the TTF file into your .fonts directory.  Now Cambria will work (when it’s not bold or italic)

Improving Linpus Linux on the Acer Aspire One

I’m trying to get my head around the weird and unsettling concept of an operating system that isn’t Windows, and it’s a pain in the arse.  Thankfully, there appears to be quite a community gathering around this little laptop, so there are plenty of answers out there.

Here is a list of the main problems I have wanted to fix, and the best ways I’ve found of doing so…

  1. Enable the Linpus Lite “advanced mode” so your operating system isn’t crippled..
  2. Upgrade to Firefox 3:
    • There are plenty of bad answers to this which are complicated and off-putting, because Firefox 2 is highly integrated into the system..
    • Thankfully though, Acer have released an tailor-made update for Firefox which addresses all these problems, you just download the file, unzip, and run it.
      • There’s one big pain in the ass though: Firefox comes installed with the Google toolbar, a bunch of video plugins and multi-lingual support.  If you don’t want all of that bollocks (particularly the Google bar) you’ll have to disable it with Tools->Addons
  3. Improve the viewable area in Firefox.
    • By default, way too much of your minimal 600px viewing height is taken up with toolbars and empty space.
    • This video is only the first way I looked at doing it, but I liked the end result.  The sound throughout the video is a tad gay though *click*, *click*..
  4. Upgrade the Aspire One to OpenOffice 3:
    • Essential if you want to integrate with Microsoft Word, as the latest version of Writer and Calc aren’t quite as horrific to use as I remember from last time I lost an hour of my life to them.
    • Copy and paste all of the terminal commands in order (you can do multiple ones at once) and it all works fine!
  5. Install some decent fonts to use in OpenOffice:
  6. Quieten the fan:
    • There is a well publicised hack to change the temperature at which the fan starts running.  I don’t trust it though, as it involves running my laptop hotter – somewhere between 60 & 70°C rather than the 40-50°C it currently stays at.  The Atom processor may be happy running up to 100°C, but I just paid £180 for this thing..  I did however follow the instructions given here to try out the hack once.  The perl script ran ok, the application launched and immediately silenced my fan, then ten minutes later the laptop hard reset itself.  I can’t tell if it was from overheating, but that’s enough of a reason for me to think fuck that!
    • If you do try it, I would check out the more detailed instructions given on the Ubuntu community page: search for the word noise, which comes under the 8.04 instructions.   They suggest you check your bios version is correct and you get reliable temperature readings rather than 0°C (as seen on the 160gb XP version), and explain how to autostart the program with Linpus..
    • I have still kept the perl script, as running “sudo perl acer_ec.pl ?= 58” lets me know what temperature the laptop is at.  It does however answer in hex, which isn’t ideal.


  7. Reinstall Linux when you completely bugger everything up:
    • I found it was quite simple to mess up the operating system beyond easy repair, probably because I went at it with the mentality of thinking I knew what I was doing.  Even installing applications is a completely alien process still.
    • The only way I found to reliably reinstall Linpus was using the DVD originally shipped by Acer.  Boot up with the DVD in an external optical drive (or if you’re not rich, in a normal pc) and follow their instructions.  Worked a charm.


    • As an alternative, it is rather easy to install Ubuntu 8.10 by making a USB boot disk and then tweaking Ubuntu for the Aspire One.
      • It took around 20 minutes to boot the laptop with the USB stick and install Ubuntu, and I even got to play a batty penguin game whilst doing so.
      • The only problem though, a real OS is shit on a netbook.  The annoying features were: no wifi support out of the box (although it is an easy fix), slower to run, noisier fan, no screen space!
      • I have to note that there is also the Ubuntu Netbook Remix which is designed for small screen netbooks, which may be a lot better.  I ought to try it one day..

Little things I’ve found useful:

  • If you don’t know the path to a particular directory it can be a nightmare to find it in the terminal, so just go to the File Browser, right click on your particular folder and you can select open in terminal.  This will give you the path…

Death rates

In 2004:

2,040,000 people died of AIDS
2,163,000 people died from diarrhoea
  517,000 women died from breast cancer
  527,000 women died from pregnancy, abortion or giving birth
1,122,000 people drowned, fell or burnt to death
2,784,000 people died from other accidents (nearly half from cars)
  783,000 people died in wars or other violence
  844,000 people committed suicide

Comforting to know.
Source: World Health Organisation Global Burden of Disease

The Economic Potential of Future Nuclear Build

This is my MSc dissertation, written for ‘The Physics and Technology of Nuclear Reactors‘ course in September 2005.

It gives an economic analysis of the next generation nuclear reactors that were at the time under consideration for construction in the UK.  These same designs are still under consideration six years after I wrote it, such is the fast pace of energy politics..

Capital cost estimates are made for current Generation II reactors, plus the AP-1000 and ACR-700 designs from Generation III.  The cost of electricity from each design is estimated, and compared to traditional fossil generators.   The commercial potential of each reactor type is discussed in the context of the UK electricity market of 2005/06.

The full report also considers the operation of an electrolysis plant, suitable for refuelling hydrogen vehicles as a petrol pump replacement.  The capital cost of a refuelling plant is estimated with varied storage and electrolyser capacity.  The optimal capacity is considered with strategic purchase of electricity on the spot market to minimise operating costs.  The optimal capacity and potential profit is calculated under 2005/06 market conditions, and under two future scenarios, with heavy fossil fuel dependance and increased nuclear capacity.




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