Hydrogen Fuel Comments Off on Hydrogen Fuel

What is Hydrogen Fuel?

Hydrogen Fuel is a clean fuel, which produces only water when consumed in a fuel cell. It is possible to produce Hydrogen from various resources, such as biomass, natural gas, renewable energy like solar and wind, and nuclear power. These features make hydrogen a useful fuel option for transportation and electricity generation. 

Hydrogen is a zero emission fuel when it is burned with oxygen. It is usable in fuel cells or internal combustion engines to power electric vehicles or electric devices. It is being used in passenger cars, and has also been used in fuel cell buses and as a fuel for spacecraft propulsion.

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Replacing fossil fuels with hydrogen is not a new idea but storageproblems have been hampering the application of this technology.However, a new technology announced this week promises a breakthroughthat could see carbon-free fuel delivered to the masses.

The technology is the result of years of research at RutherfordAppleton Laboratory near Oxford, England. It was led by ProfessorStephen Bennington, who worked with scientists from University CollegeLondon and Oxford University. A spin-out company called Cella Energy has been formed to develop the fuel.

Methodology

To create the fuel, they took high-energy materials and encapsulatedthem by using a nanostructuring technique called coaxialelectrospraying. The most exciting aspect of the technology is thatearly tests have indicated that the fuel could power regular combustionengine vehicles without engine modification.

The researchers found a way of making tiny micro-fibres 30 timessmaller than a human hair. These form a tissue-like material that issafe to handle in air. The new material contains as much hydrogen for agiven weight as the high pressure tanks currently used to store hydrogen and can also be made in the form of micro beads that can be poured andpumped like a liquid.

Perfect fuel

“In some senses hydrogen is the perfect fuel; it has three times moreenergy than petrol per unit of weight, and when it burns it producesnothing but water. But the only way to pack it into a vehicle is to usevery high pressures or very low temperatures, both of which areexpensive to do. Our new hydrogen storage materials offer real potential for running cars, planes and other vehicles that currently usehydrocarbons on hydrogen, with little extra cost and no extrainconvenience to the driver”, said Professor Stephen Bennington, leadscientist on the project.

Cella Energy has received financing from Thomas Swan & Co Ltd, aspecialist chemical company. The companies signed an agreement onJanuary 24th.

“Consumers want to be able to travel 300-400 miles before they haveto refuel. And when they do have to fill up they want to be able to doit as quickly as possible. Existing hydrogen storage methods do not meet these consumer expectations, but the ones we are developing have thepotential to do just this” said Stephen Voller, the new CEO of CellaEnergy.

Image: Cella Energy CEO, Stephen Voller

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