Andrei Fedorov has figured out an amazing new way to use a four stroke engine. With some modifications he and his research team can make 100 year old design into a motor that makes Hydrogen Gas from Natural Gas.
Professor Fedorov works at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and the results from a recent study were published in the journal Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research. The article describes the CHAMP process, which the professor believes to be a scalable system for making clean burning hydrogen fuel.
A catalyst, a hydrogen separating membrane and carbon dioxide sorbent are added to the engine and the whole process runs at a very low temperature. Given the huge infrastructure for distributing natural gas world-wide, this hydrogen refining motor could go a log way to making clean fuel available at a local level.
This machine is called the CO2/H2 Active Membrane Piston (CHAMP) reactor, and has been in development for more than a decade.
Professor Fedorov had this to say about his latest work, “We already have a nationwide natural gas distribution infrastructure, so it’s much better to produce hydrogen at the point of use rather than trying to distribute it,”, an astute point, he continues, “Our technology could produce this fuel of choice wherever natural gas is available, which could resolve one of the major challenges with the hydrogen economy.”
While this new technology is intriguing, it isn’t perfect. It still produces carbon dioxide as a by-product, and uses water to make the reaction possible.
On the upside the carbon dioxide is compressed, and easily stored. Though having a better long term solution in place would be ideal.
Clearly burning hydrogen would be vastly superior in many applications, and it could easily replace fuels like diesel in urban transportation systems.
While not a perfect solution, this sort of research is a step in the right direction.