Hydrogen, the most clean fuel in the universe, has been seen with skepticism by many. Although bad events involving exploded hydrogen tanks are rare, Monroe County’s (NY) hydrogen station on Scottsville Road experienced the explosion of two tanks filled with hydrogen.
Scientists have recently discovered that, among other sources, still water can generate renewable energy. Using an electrolyzer, water is broken into hydrogen and oxygen. In this process, catalysts are needed for oxygen production, most of which are not cheap, nor environment-friendly.
Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAV) are usually the prototypes preceding manned ones, and hence new technologies have to be tested thoroughly before applied to manned, real-life situations. UAVs have been tinkering with fuel cells lately to show that they’re capable to perform flight for an increasing period of time.
Italy seems to be the perfect place for a hydrogen infrastructure to develop in Europe. Acta, an Italian company, has plans to install their new hydrogen refilling stations throughout the country. They use solar power to perform electrolysis on water and extract the hydrogen.
An interesting case of biomimetrics comes from Norway’s Academy of Science and Letters in Oslo, where Signe Kjelstrup designed a fuel cell having the interior structure similar to that of the lungs. This is a case where both the shape and the function were imported from naturally-developed organisms.
Volkswagen has recently tested two of their most advanced clean car technologies in a long-range drive, between France and Italy. The Volkswagen Bora HY.POWER and the SunFuel Bora TDI (Jetta in the U.S.) were successfully driven over the Simplon Pass, once again proving their efficiency.
According to the company, this giant generator (large as a tractor trailer truck) is planned to be shipped to Ohio where it will be plugged into the power grid. Also being powered by hydrogen, it has a source of energy that can be extracted from a clean natural resource such as water.
Being the core of the dispute between early electric car adopters, hydrogen may be the solution to the electric movement, eventually even beating batteries by cleanliness. The technology behind hydrogen powered cars poses a few issues, though.
Waste vegetable oils have previously been used to fuel older diesel engines, but until now nobody succeeded to extract the hydrogen in them and to sequester the carbon dioxide with cheap and affordable technologies. Leeds University scientists have broken the ice and discovered an energy efficient method of extracting both hydrogen and carbon dioxide from otherwise disposable vegetable oils.
Researchers at Beijing’s Tsinghua University and NTU unveiled the first hydrogen-electric bus that will be from now on Singapore roads. Dubbed GreenLite, this eco-friendly bus only emits clean water and has zero carbon emission. Compared with other conventional buses, GreenLite does not run on fossil fuel and is powered by a combustion engine, which makes it very quiet.
Plane maker Boeing recently launched a hydrogen-powered spy unit that will stay aloft at 65,000 feet for up to four days. Dubbed Phantom Eye, it is one of the most environmentally friendly airplanes available today. According to officials, this unmanned aircraft can carry up to 450 lbs, having a 150-foot wingspan.
Having your hydrogen fuel cell car powered by some solar panels in your own backyard looks like a dream not able to come true in a lifetime for some. For others, this is already a reality and a long-term plan. Honda, GM, Toyota, Mercedes and several other car manufacturers, joined by fuel providers including Shell, look at home-based refueling stations quite seriously and plan to have the first ones implemented in as little as five years.
Sometimes, materials in bulk sizes exhibit properties totally different than when they are sliced in pieces only a few molecules wide. A news report from the MIT says that prof. Yang Shao-Horn and a team of researchers have discovered how a very thin sheet of a material called “strontium-substituted lanthanum cobalt perovskite,” aka LSC, can help solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC) produce a lot more electricity from the same amount of fuel.
Horizon, a fuel cell manufacturing company from Singapore, has recently unveiled a small hydrogen fuel cell charger that could juice your gadgets (PDA, phone, MP3, etc). It’s called MiniPAK, and it uses refillable solid-state hydrogen cartridges (called HydroSTIK) to store its power.
Purdue University chemical engineers have invented a method of storing hydrogen and releasing it safely without the need for high-pressure tanks, only by using the fuel cell’s dissipated heat.
Hydrogen fuel cells generate electricity when fed with hydrogen, which combines with oxygen and results water. Still, hydrogen fuel cells are expensive due to the catalyst used in the cathode for the reaction known as oxygen reduction. That catalyst is 100% pure platinum, which is a rare and expensive material.