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Toyota to Produce Hydrogen Fuel from Cow Dung

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Hydrogen fuelToyota engineer Scott Blanchet has been working on a new car engine – one that is powered by cow dung.

Exploiting a waste product to harvest the universes most abundant element hydrogen is the plan. Toyota will extract the hydrogen out of the manure using large digesters; essentially lagoons where the dung is broken down by bacteria releasing methane gas. The methane is collected and hydrogen extracted in a steam methane reformer using steam and heat and converted into a gas that will power a car.

Good news for consumers is that although technically the engine is powered by cow dung, there is no smell. The engine itself is a non combustion engine, hydrogen and oxygen from the air mix in a fuel cell and create DC electricity that powers the car. The only emission from this process is water.

This fuel cell technology is not good news for the petrol conglomerates who refuse to back a technology that will essentially put them out of business. Opponents of hydrogen technology claim that hydrogen is extremely flammable (like petrol) and that it can asphyxiate people (like current car emissions).

Hydrogen fuel cells are quick to refuel and cars can travel around 300 miles before needing to refuel, comparable with petrol cars.  With states starting to approve funding to build hydrogen fueling stations and consumers demanding greener options, Toyota’s dung fueled cars could just put petrol on the dung heap.

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1 COMMENT

  1. That’s an interesting process, we should be backing this tech.
    We’ve got piles of organic wastes laying around so using them makes lot of sense, especially if you make clean energy or chemicals (hydrogen is a very useful gas for hydrogenation and hydrogenolysis, for example in the manufacture of margarine).
    Any drop of petroleum not used is a path forward to sustainability.
    Hydrogen opponents claims can be alleviated by converting hydrogen into ammonia (NH3) because it can be stored by applying pressure (unlike H2 that need cryo-refrigeration), is flammable only in a small range of stoichiometry (between 16 and 25% for NH3 against 4 and 96% for H2), is transportable by pipeline (the US has the biggest ammonia pipeline in the world, if I remember correctly) and is already made industrially using the the steam reformation process and ultimately, it could be made directly by solid state synthesis using electricity from any sources.
    Its biggest drawback is the fact that it is toxic and stinks, but that may not be one because you can smell it and thus flee before it gets toxic and its also a good warning that there is a leak.

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