H Y D R O G E N N E W S
Hydrogen: A smart, sustainable fuel.
Hydrogen is the simplest, lightest and most abundant element in the universe. It is an energy resource that is essentially pollution free. Hydrogen is the only zero carbon emission "universal fuel" that can power virtually any engine or appliance, from cars, trucks, commercial aircraft, motorcycles, boats. Remember there are major challenges and complex technical problems to overcome and solve before the practical promises of hydrogen may be realized.
Researchers develop extremely sensitive hydrogen sensor
Hydrogen is a highly promising energy carrier. But it can also be dangerous, as it is combustible and difficult to detect. Using hydrogen safely requires sensors that can detect even the smallest of leaks. Researchers from ...
New ultrathin material for splitting water could make hydrogen production cheaper
UNSW Sydney chemists have invented a new, cheap catalyst for splitting water
Argonne scientists make vanadium into a useful catalyst for hydrogenation
Scientists make vanadium into a useful catalyst for hydrogenation
Just as Cinderella turned from a poor teenager into a magnificent princess with the aid of a little magic, scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory have transformed a common metal into a useful
Coming Soon to East Coast Highways: Clean, Quiet Hydrogen cars The Hindu http://www.thehindu.com/business/coming-soon-to-east-coast-highways-clean-quiet-hydrogen-cars/article18515286.ece
Lab-scale technology recycles wastewater into hydrogen for use in fuel production
Discovery of a Facile Process for Hydrogen Production Using Ammonia as a Carrier
New Catalyst for Water Splitting Developed
Toyota’s still serious about hydrogen—it built a semi to prove it.
This looks like a better idea than trying to pressurize, store, carry hydrogen around in your car…..http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1104467_nissan-takes-a-different-approach-to-fuel-cells-ethanol/page-2
Converting water into hydrogen more efficiently
Hydrogen on Demand ... read more
Livermore CA (SPX) Feb 28, 2017
Confined nanoparticles improve hydrogen storage materials performance
Livermore CA (SPX) Feb 28, 2017
Nano-sized hydrogen storage system increases efficiency
Scientists harness solar power to produce clean hydrogen from biomass
University of Cambridge
Controlling electron spin makes water splitting more efficient ... more
Diamond vise turns hydrogen into a metal, potentially ending 80-year quest
Victoria's plans for hydrogen exports to Japan are 'way of making brown coal look green.'
New process produces hydrogen at much lower temperature
Hydrogen in your pocket? New plastic for carrying and storing hydrogen
Lack of cheap, clean hydrogen slows fuel-cell cars.
Improved Water Splitting Advances Renewable Energy Conversion — A way to more efficiently create hydrogen from water
A new car from Toyota runs on a very renewable resource: human waste.
US Army, Chevy to unveil hydrogen fuel-cell Colorado truck
This new material could help produce cheap hydrogen from water.
The Hydrogen powered $57,500 Mirai, a four-seater can drive farther and refuel faster. Washington Post
Toyota unveils fuel-cell car assembly line Toyota President Akio Toyoda unveiled the assembly line for the first mass market fuel-cell car.
Bionic Leaf: Researchers Use Bacteria to Convert Solar Energy Into Liquid Fuel
Moving toward a cheaper, better catalyst for hydrogen production
(Phys.org) —Hydrogen could be an important source of clean energy, and the cleanest way to produce hydrogen gas is to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. But the catalyst currently used to facilitate ...
Storing hydrogen underground could boost transportation, energy security
Large-scale storage of low-pressure, gaseous hydrogen in salt caverns and other underground sites for transportation fuel and grid-scale energy applications offers several advantages over above-ground storage,
Why aren’t we all driving hydrogen fuel cell cars?
from GRIST Magazine
Toward a low-cost 'artificial leaf' that produces clean hydrogen fuel
For years, scientists have been pursuing "artificial leaf" technology, a green approach to making hydrogen fuel that copies plants' ability to convert sunlight into a form of energy they can use. Now, one ...
Why aren’t we all driving hydrogen fuel cell cars?
Toyota to start sales of fuel cell car next month
There will only be a few hundred, and they won't be cheap, but Toyota is about to take its first small step into the unproven market for emissions-free, hydrogen-powered vehicles.
Unique catalysts for hydrogen fuel cells synthesized in ordinary kitchen microwave oven
Swedish and Chinese researchers show how a unique nano-alloy composed of palladium nano-islands embedded in tungsten nanoparticles creates a new type of catalysts for highly efficient oxygen reduction, the most important ...
McPhy manufactures equipment that optimizes electricity resources based on a unique technology for hydrogen storage in solid form, in association with technology for hydrogen production by water electrolysis that has been reinvented and perfectly adjusted to the production needs of renewable energy.
Wall Street Journal
Harvesting Hydrogen from the Sun
A new solution for storing hydrogen fuel for alternative energy
Turning the "hydrogen economy" concept into a reality, even on a small scale, has been a bumpy road, but scientists are developing a novel way to store hydrogen to smooth out the long-awaited transition away
Toyota 'bullish' on hydrogen amid California station plans. Bloomberg News. 27 May 2014.
Hydrogen Fuel Set to Take Off, But Safety Concerns Remain Naveena Sadasivam ProPublica
In California, hydrogen-fueled cars are gaining in popularity. Will their safety issues garner greater scrutiny?
Hydrogen car intrigues at Denver display of alternative-fuel vehicles. Colorado's only commercial hydrogen-powered car made an appearance at an exhibition of "green" vehicles on the state Capitol. Denver Post, Colorado. 7 April 2014.
Toyota to market hydrogen cars. Toyota appears to have discovered that compared to the other zero-emissions alternative, battery-powered electric vehicles, or EVs, fuel cells don't look so bad. Toyota plans to start selling a zero-emission hydrogen fuel-cell powered car in the U.S. next year. USA Today. 10 February 2014.
Catalysts May Produce Cheap Hydrogen Researchers have shown that a one-atom thick film of molybdenum sulfide (MoS2) may work as an effective catalyst for creating hydrogen. The work opens a new door for the production of cheap hydrogen.
Hydrogen fuel cell is new charger for mobile gadgets. A smartphone charger based on a hydrogen fuel cell, originally designed for use in parts of Africa without mains electricity, is to go on sale in the US. New Scientist. 8 January 2014
Toyota bumps up hydrogen-powered car in US to 2015 (Update) Toyota said Monday that a hydrogen-powered vehicle that emits only water vapor as exhaust will go on sale in the U.S. in 2015, a year earlier than it promised just two months ago
Toyota to help set up hydrogen stations as fuel-cell cars arrive. Toyota Motor Corp., which is preparing to sell Camry-sized sedans next year in the United States that are powered by fuel cells, said it will help create a hydrogen- station network to aid the plug-free electric vehicles' success. Bergen County Record, New Jersey. 7 January 2014
Toyota eyes California hydrogen station network. Toyota Motor Corp., which is getting ready to sell Camry-size sedans powered by fuel cells in the U.S. next year, plans to help create a network of hydrogen stations that may include pumps at car dealers and even trash dumps. Bloomberg News. 8 January 2014
Splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen using light, nanoparticles
Researchers from the University of Houston have found a catalyst that can quickly generate hydrogen from water using sunlight, potentially creating a clean and renewable source of energy
New formula for fast, abundant hydrogen production may help power fuel cells
Scientists in Lyon, a French city famed for its cuisine, have discovered a quick-cook recipe for copious volumes of hydrogen (H2).
Novel material stores unusually large amounts of hydrogen
An international team of researchers has synthesized a new material that stores an unusually large amount of hydrogen. Performing high-pressure X-ray studies at DESY's PETRA III and other light sources, the
Hydrogen phone chargers to keep Africans connected when power runs short. African smartphone users will soon have an alternative means to get round the power shortages afflicting much of the world's poorest continent – a portable charger that relies on hydrogen fuel cells. Reuters. 15 November 2013.
Scientists have created a silicon-based water splitter that is both low-cost and corrosion-free. The novel device -- a silicon semiconductor coated in an ultrathin layer of nickel -- ... > full story
As the hopes for hydrogen fuel have grown larger, we've been working to make the technology smaller.
At ExxonMobil, our scientists are working ot scale down a system developed in our refineries for use in passenger cars. Our hope is to develop a technology that could produce hydrogen from gasoline or diesel right on board a car. Development of this technology as part of a hydrogen system could significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase fuel economy by as much as 80% compared to current vehicles.
Karen Tyrone | Engineer
ExxonMobil - Taking on the world's toughest energy challenges.
More at exxonmobil.com/hydrogen
Advertisement: New York Times, December 2010
"Hydrogen highway" for fuel-cell cars coming to east coast. If he builds it, will they come? It's a question worth asking Tom Sullivan, who says that his companies SunHydro and Proton Energy will build an East Coast "hydrogen highway" to compete with the still-underdeveloped West Coast version. Daily Green. 15 April 2010.
New Super Bacterium Doubles Hydrogen Gas Production
Water Oxidation Advance Boosts Potential for Solar Fuel
Chemists have developed the most potent homogeneous catalyst known for water oxidation, considered a crucial component for generating clean hydrogen fuel using only water and sunlight. ... > full story
My own private... hydrogen power station?
For years, it's been called the fuel of the future. But I wasn't expecting THIS vision just yet.
Hydrogen fuel cell technology was first embraced a few years back by carmakers eager to go green. The big obstacle? Hydrogen at the pump wasn't available, and was expensive to produce.
But one inventor hope to change that.
Hubbing through Hong Kong, Taras Wankewycz showed me a table-top hydrogen power station that can extract hydrogen from water to be used in fuel cells.
The Hydrofill uses electricity from the outlet (as well as solar panels if you're particularly green), and produces hydrogen that can then be stored in refillable cartridges. The system can pump out 2.5 watts of power.
(And brushing Hindenburg nightmares aside, the company insists the technology is safe.)
No word yet on the cost. Online chatter puts it at about $200 for the whole kit, but Taras himself is mum on giving an exact number because he's still in talks with retailers. He expects to have it on shelves at the end of the year.
Taras' company, Singapore-based Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies, is also pushing out a range of products which can use the cartridges to power up smartphones, lights and other devices including a zippy RC hydrogen fuel cell car.
Taras is confident his invention is the very first step to a so-called hydrogen economy where hydrogen displaces oil as our chief source of energy.
One interesting upside -- hydrogen is a compact and relatively light source of power... which is why the US military has been developing hydrogen-powered drones.
Of course, the obvious big upside of hydrogen is that it's clean. Hydrogen fuel cells produce only water vapor as a by-product. But power is still needed to produce the stuff.
Honda is working on a next-generation hydrogen refueling station aimed at showing American homeowners how they could run their cars on hydrogen made out of sunshine and water.
Hydrogen-Powered Fuel Cell Unmanned Air Vehicle Sets 26-Hour Flight Endurance Record
December 1, 2009 — The Naval Research Laboratory's Ion Tiger, a hydrogen-powered fuel cell unmanned air vehicle, has flown 26 hours and 1 minute carrying a 5-pound payload, setting another unofficial flight endurance ... > full story
New Clues About A Hydrogen Fuel Catalyst
ScienceDaily (Aug. 10, 2009) — To use hydrogen as a clean energy source, some engineers want to pack hydrogen into a larger molecule, rather than compressing the gas into a tank. A gas flows easily out of a tank, but getting hydrogen out of a molecule requires a catalyst. Now, researchers reveal new details about one such catalyst. The results are a step toward designing catalysts for use in hydrogen energy applications such as fuel cells.
Scientists from the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory combined experimental and theoretical studies to identify the characteristics of the catalyst, a cluster of rhodium, boron and other atoms. The catalyst chemically reacts with ammonia borane, a molecule that stores hydrogen densely, to release the hydrogen as a gas. Their results, which reveal many molecular details of this catalytic reaction, appear August 5, 2009 in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
Wednesday, 7th January 2009
Breakthrough turn-on for hydrogen power
Published Date: 07 January 2009 By Jenny Haworth Environment Correspondent
SCOTS scientists claim they have achieved a breakthrough in efforts to use hydrogen to provide clean electricity.
It has long been thought hydrogen could be used as a fuel, particularly for transport. If the hydrogen is produced from biofuels, its use results in very low carbon dioxide emissions.
However, efforts to produce hydrogen from biofuels have been dogged by difficulties – and currently it is usually created using natural gas in fossil fuels, which produces large amounts of damaging .
Now a team of scientists, led by a professor from the University of Aberdeen, have achieved a leap forward in the process.
Using a catalyst, they have converted ethanol fermented from biofuels into hydrogen.
Although this has been done before, Professor Hicham Idriss, Energy Futures chairman at the University of Aberdeen, said it had never been effective as it had never been achieved without producing waste products, such as carbon monoxide, which is poisonous. It took the team of scientists from across the world, led by Prof Idriss, more than ten years to hone the technique.
The hydrogen could be used to power fuel cells, which can provide clean electricity for vehicles, homes and even large buildings.
Prof Idriss said: "It's quite feasible that we could see the use of this new type of catalysts to generate the hydrogen used in the UK in the future if the necessary changes to public policy were implemented."
The catalyst used by Prof Idriss and his colleagues to convert ethanol into hydrogen is made from the rare metals rhodium and palladium.
Although they are expensive, he said such small quantities were needed this should not be a problem. However, there is still one disadvantage to the process because it requires temperatures of about 500C in order to work.
Dr Richard Dixon, director of WWF Scotland, said he thought it was a "step forward" but added he believed it would be better to focus on electric cars to provide the transport of the future, rather than those powered by fuel cells.
The research is published in the journal ChemSusChem.
THE process developed by scientists in Aberdeen to produce hydrogen for fuel cells from biofuels starts with fermentation.
Crops are fermented using yeast, producing ethanol and water.
Then a catalyst made using the metals rhodium and palladium is added to the ethanol and water, at temperatures of about 500C.
This converts the ethanol and water into hydrogen and carbon dioxide.
Light Weight Hydrogen 'Tank' Could Fuel Hydrogen Economy
ScienceDaily (Nov. 5, 2008) — Dutch-sponsored researcher Robin Gremaud has shown that an alloy of the metals magnesium, titanium and nickel is excellent at absorbing hydrogen. This light alloy brings us a step closer to the everyday use of hydrogen as a source of fuel for powering vehicles. A hydrogen ‘tank’ using this alloy would have a relative weight that is sixty percent less than a battery pack.
In order to find the best alloy Gremaud developed a method which enabled simultaneous testing of thousands of samples of different metals for their capacity to absorb hydrogen.*
Hydrogen is considered to be a clean and therefore important fuel of the future. This gas can be used directly in cars in an internal combustion engine, like in BMW’s hydrogen vehicle, or it can be converted into electrical energy in so-called fuel cells, like in the Citaro buses in service in Amsterdam.
The major problem of using hydrogen in transport is the secure storage of this highly explosive gas. This can be realised by using metals that absorb the gas. However, a drawback of this approach is that it makes the hydrogen ‘tanks’ somewhat cumbersome.
The battery, the competing form of storage for electrical energy, comes off even worse. Driving four hundred kilometres with an electric car, such as the Toyota Prius, would require the car to carry 317 kilos of modern lithium batteries for its journey. With Gremaud’s light metal alloy this same distance would require a hydrogen tank of ‘only’ two hundred kilos. Although this new metal alloy is important for the development of hydrogen as a fuel, the discovery of the holy grail of hydrogen storage is still some way off.
In his research Gremaud made use of a technique for measuring the absorbance of hydrogen by metals, based on the phenomenon of ‘switchable mirrors’ discovered at the VU University Amsterdam. About ten years ago researchers at the VU discovered that certain materials lose their reflection by absorbing hydrogen. This technique became known as hydrogenography, or ‘writing with hydrogen’. Using this technique, Gremaud was able to simultaneously analyse the efficacy of thousands of different combinations of the metals magnesium, titanium and nickel. Traditional methods require separate testing for each alloy.
The analysis requires each of the three metals to be eroded from an individual source and deposited onto a transparent film in a thin layer of 100 nanometres using so-called sputtering deposition. This ensures that the three metals are deposited onto the film in many different ratios. When the film is exposed to different amounts of hydrogen, it is clearly visible, even to the naked eye, which composition of metals is best at absorbing hydrogen.
Gremaud is the first to use this method for measuring hydrogen absorption.
*The British company Ilika in Southampton has shown considerable interest. It wants to build a hydrogen analyser using this technique.
Gremaud’s research was funded by NWO Chemical Sciences as part of the National Programme ‘Sustainable Hydrogen’.
Adapted from materials provided by NWO (Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research).
Rare Microorganism That Produces Hydrogen May Be Key To Tomorrow's Hydrogen Economy
ScienceDaily (July 8, 2008) — An ancient organism from the pit of a collapsed volcano may hold the key to tomorrow's hydrogen economy. Scientists from across the world have formed a team to unlock the process refined by a billions-year old archaea. The U.S. Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute will expedite the research by sequencing the hydrogen-producing organism for comparative genomics.
When members of the Russian Academy of Sciences isolated a rare archaeal microorganism that breaks down cellulose and produces hydrogen, Biswarup Mukhopadhyay, an assistant professor with the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute at Virginia Tech, saw an opportunity to open a door for development of a cellulose-based high-temperature hydrogen production process. “Hydrogen can be easily converted to electrical and mechanical energy without any production of carbon dioxide,” said Mukhopadhyay, whose lab specializes in very high temperature or hyperthermophilic archaea and in energy production.
To read the entire item at Science Daily:
Researchers describe hydrogen storage
Uppsala, Sweden (UPI) Jun 24, 2008
A Swedish-led international research team has described for the first time how hydrogen atoms are stored and released by compounds containing magnesium.
The researchers said they expect their findings will aid scientists in building hydrogen fuel cells having sufficient power to compete effectively with internal combustion engines.
Professor Rajeev Ahuja of Uppsala University led the research designed to create computer simulations of magnesium clusters at the quantum mechanical level. The simulations were performed at Uppsala University's Multidisciplinary Center for Advanced Computational Science.
Abu Dhabi plots hydrogen future
By Richard Black
Environment correspondent, BBC News website
Story from BBC NEWS:
The government of Abu Dhabi has announced a $15bn (£7.5bn) initiative to develop clean energy technologies.
The Gulf state describes the five-year initiative as "the most ambitious sustainability project ever launched by a government".
Components will include the world's largest hydrogen power plant.
The government has also announced plans for a "sustainable city", housing about 50,000 people, that will produce no greenhouse gases and contain no cars.
The $15bn fund, which the state hopes will lead to international joint ventures involving much more money, is being channelled through the Masdar Initiative, a company established to develop and commercialise clean energy technologies.
It shows that you can generate hydrogen without carbon release from fossil fuels
Professor Keith Guy
"As global demand for energy continues to expand, and as climate change becomes a real and growing concern, the time has come to look to the future," said Masdar CEO Dr Sultan Al Jaber.
"Our ability to adapt and respond to these realities will ensure that Abu Dhabi's global energy leadership as well as our own growth and development continues."
The portfolio of technologies eligible for funding under the Masdar Initiative is extensive, but solar energy is likely to be a major beneficiary.
The hydrogen plant, meanwhile, will link the world's currently dominant technology, fossil fuel burning, with two technologies likely to be important in a low-carbon future - carbon sequestration and hydrogen manufacture.
Hydrogen will be manufactured from natural gas by reactions involving steam, producing a mixture of hydrogen and carbon dioxide.
The CO2 can be pumped underground, either simply to store it away permanently or as a way of extracting more oil from existing wells, using the high-pressure gas to force more of the black gold to the surface.
When hydrogen is burned, it produces no CO2. Eventually hydrogen made this way could be used in vehicles, though in Abu Dhabi it will generate electricity.
"It's important because it shows that you can generate hydrogen without carbon release from fossil fuels," commented Keith Guy, an engineering consultant and professor at the UK's Bath University.
"When you look at how hydrogen could be made economically, the route that many people have been looking at, through electrolysis of water, is incredibly expensive."
The Masdar Sustainable City, another component of the Abu Dhabi government's plans which is being designed with input from the environmental group WWF, is envisaged as a self-contained car-free zone where all energy will come from renewable resources, principally solar panels to generate electricity.
Buildings will be constructed to allow air in but keep the Sun's heat out. Wind towers will ventilate homes and offices using natural convection.
The fund and the Masdar City plans were formally unveiled at the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi.
Is the Hydrogen Age Just Around the Corner?
By Jerry Brown and Rinaldo Brutoco and James Cusumano, Ode
Posted on December 28, 2007, Printed on December 28, 2007 AlterNet
You may think hydrogen power is some futuristic fantasy, fit only for science-fiction writers. Or, at best, you might consider it a promising technology that won't be ready for prime time for another 40 to 50 years. If so, think again. In a special edition on "Best Inventions 2006," Time magazine praises the decision by Shanghai-based Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies "to design and market the H-racer, a 6-inch-long toy car that does what Detroit still can't. It runs on hydrogen extracted from plain tap water, using the solar-powered hydrogen station."
Hydrogen vehicles are not mere toys. More than 500 are on the road today. A BMW prototype with a hydrogen internal-combustion engine attained a top speed of 186 miles an hour. Mazda, Ford, Honda and GM are developing a variety of hydrogen-powered engines. Perhaps most exciting, Honda is now powering zero-emission vehicles with hydrogen derived from tap water in small stationary units that drivers can keep in their garages.
We believe the rapid pace of invention, testing and commercialization of fuel-cell technologies is a strong sign that we are entering the early stages of a hydrogen revolution. Instead of waiting half a century as critics suggest, the large-scale production of hydrogen fuel-cell cars could begin very soon. We have come to a crossroads where a single, courageous decision by a few world leaders could launch a new era of progress. That decision is, of course, to shift from our dependence on environmentally damaging fossil fuels to plentiful, renewable and clean-burning hydrogen fuel.
Not everyone sees the bright future of the hydrogen age. Some well-informed energy experts contend hydrogen will be viable only after 20 to 30 years of development. The respected environmental think tank Worldwatch Institute, cautions, "Despite recent public attention about the potential for a hydrogen economy, it could take decades to develop the infrastructure and vehicles required for a hydrogen-powered system." Joseph Romm, author of The Hype About Hydrogen, states that, "Hydrogen vehicles are unlikely to achieve even a 5 percent market share by 2030."
These predictions are needlessly pessimistic, based on common misconceptions about the cost, efficiency and technology of hydrogen. If we make hydrogen a national and international priority, as outlined below in a strategy for launching the hydrogen economy, we foresee the first affordable hydrogen fuel-cell cars coming to market starting between 2010 and 2012, and achieving 5 percent of the new car market share by 2020 or sooner.
Honda touts Clarity as latest, greatest fuel-cell car
LOS ANGELES — The red car humming quietly along this four-lane suburban road looks pretty much like your average four-door sedan.
But take a close look at the latest model of Honda's FCX Clarity, unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November, and you'll spot one key difference: There's no tailpipe at the back.
This car doesn't need one. As a hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle, it releases only water vapor from an outlet on its underside, instead of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and other unsavory exhaust produced by conventional gasoline-consuming cars.
Honda advertises the latest Clarity model as an exemplar of technological achievement, with more power per unit of weight and considerably higher fuel efficiency than its 2005 predecessor.
Backed by rising calls to stop global warming, top U.S., Japanese and German automakers are competing to develop zero-emission technologies able to withstand a wide range of driving conditions and the test of the marketplace as well.
And despite skepticism from some energy experts, the automakers tout hydrogen fuel-cell cars as key to a sustainable future, with roles also played by other types of hydrogen vehicles and hybrids.
U.S. researchers have developed a method of converting cellulose and other biodegradable organic materials into hydrogen.
Penn State University Professor Bruce Logan and research associate Shaoan Cheng said today's energy focus is on ethanol as a fuel, but economical ethanol from cellulose is at least 10 years away.
Logan and Cheng used naturally occurring bacteria in a microbial electrolysis cell with acetic acid -- the predominant acid produced by fermentation of glucose or cellulose.
Mazda Unveils Hydrogen Hybrid
By YURI KAGEYAMA 10.02.07, 4:23 AM ET
YOKOHAMA, Japan -
Mazda unveiled a new kind of hybrid vehicle on Tuesday that runs on hydrogen fuel powering an electric motor. The Japanese automaker said it will be available for leasing in Japan next year.
The Mazda Premacy Hydrogen RE Hybrid, shown to reporters ahead of its debut at the Tokyo Motor Show later this month, operates on a rotary engine, which has a reputation for being quiet because it doesn't have pistons like standard engines.
The vehicle is powered by energy produced when hydrogen combines with oxygen in the air to emit only clean water. A conventional rotary engine runs on gasoline, but the one in the new hybrid runs on hydrogen stored in a tank, although it can switch to gas when hydrogen runs out.
Mazda officials said the latest hydrogen hybrid is an improvement over its previous hydrogen vehicle, leased since 2006, extending its run on a full tank of hydrogen from 100 kilometers (62 miles) to 200 kilometers (124 miles).
The new car also has a lithium-ion battery that drives the motor and recharges itself using energy from braking, further conserving on electricity. Mazda refused to say what supplier was providing the battery.
The leasing fee will be similar to the predecessor at about 400,000 yen (US$3,500; euro2,500) a month, according to Mazda, and so it's aimed at government and ecological organizations.
At its research facility in Yokohama, Mazda also showed a "concept car," or show model, called Taiki, inspired by flowing wind.
Laurens van den Acker, general manager of design, said the sportscar highlights the Hiroshima-based automaker's innovation in design.
Its curvaceous surface creased with swooping lines, the slinky car looked like a metal stingray.
Its shape developed from studies of sheer fabric fluttering in the wind, and its interior was based on "koinobori," or carp-shaped decorations of cloth that Japanese put up to sway in the wind to celebrate Children's Day, a national holiday, said Chief Designer Atsuhiko Yamada.
"Air is a very important substance, but it is invisible," he said in explaining the design challenges.
See entire and other Hydrogen stories at
Modified minibus gives biofuel spiked with hydrogen a test ride
...Mr. Easterwood took the wheel of a Toledo Area Regional Paratransit Service minibus modified to add power.
The transit authority has assigned that bus to test the effectiveness of supplementing biodiesel fuel blends with hydrogen to improve engine performance.
Sustaining 50 mph in the bus seemed risky enough, in fact, that two executives from H2 Engine Systems, Inc., who earlier had taken turns at the wheel for 30-mph and 40-mph tests around the track, decided 47 mph would be enough for the day’s third and final sustained-speed test.
The study is funded from a $1.5 million federal grant issued to the transit agency in 2004 to study alternatives to traditional petroleum fuel. Most of the money was spent for a biodiesel fueling island at TARTA’s main garage and for University of Toledo testing of 40 regular-service buses that now burn a 20-percent blend of biofuel and regular diesel oil.
University of Toledo researchers are scheduled to report on their tests’ progress to the TARTA trustees Oct. 4.
For the hydrogen study, H2 Engine Systems designed and installed a tank and connections to introduce hydrogen into the fuel system. While pure hydrogen gas is explosive, once mixed with biodiesel its concentration is 4 percent or less, eliminating “any fears of a Hindenburg disaster with a TARTA bus,” Mr. Everton told the transit board last week.
The hydrogen is replenished from a compressed-gas cylinder stored at the transit authority’s garage. For a long-term application, Mr. Everton said, it should be possible to generate hydrogen on board from water by electrolysis, using electricity tapped from the alternator and releasing oxygen into the atmosphere.
While hydrogen has been tested before with regular diesel fuel, Mr. Everton said he’s unaware of anyone else testing hydrogen’s potential for enhancing biodiesel performance.
And while his company’s current work addresses its use in a vehicular application, he believes there’s a potential for using hydrogen-enhanced biofuel to generate electricity “cheaper than you can get it from the utilities.
“We see hydrogen injected into biodiesel or ethanol providing combined heating, cooling, and power for large buildings like schools,” Mr. Everton said.
Full Story at Toledo Blade
Phoenix Canada Oil Extends International Patent Filings On Hydrogen Gas Generation Technology
Toronto, Canada (SPX) Sep 17, 2007
Phoenix Canada Oil reports that new patent filings, deriving from the recent issue of U.S. Patent number 7,122,171, have been completed under International Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) rules. Under the Technology License Agreement with a major U.S. research university, held by its U.S. unit, Phoenix International Energy Inc., Phoenix holds exclusive worldwide rights to the proprietary technology for a period of twenty years beyond the initial 17-year patent term.
Phoenix said that the U. S. patent was the primary milestone that established its leading position in the developing hydrogen economy. Phoenix claims that the U.S. patent validates its proprietary "foundation" technology covering the solar light-powered generation of low cost, pure hydrogen gas from a common water feedstock. The patent also provides a strong measure of confidence that no competitive "prior art" that conflicts with the Company's innovative hydrogen technology was determined in the examination process.
The patented Phoenix hydrogen generation technology employs practically the full spectrum of solar light energy to catalytically produce virtually inexhaustible hydrogen gas resources of pristine energy from an ordinary water feedstock. Hydrogen's combustion products consist exclusively of heat and water vapor. The elimination of greenhouse gas emissions and global warming effects will ensure longer term environmental stability.
For the full story, see EnergyDaily
Ford Touts Hydrogen Technology By TOM KRISHER 07.10.07, 5:28 PM ET
The relatively quick-and-easy answer to foreign oil dependence and automotive greenhouse gas emissions is circling the grounds every day at Orlando International Airport in Florida, according to a top Ford Motor Co. official.
It's a utilitarian 12-passenger parking lot shuttle bus powered by a 6.8-liter internal combustion hydrogen engine, which Ford officials said is their hydrogen technology that's closest to mass production.
"We really believe this technology is ready to be evaluated at the consumer level," John Lapetz, the company's program manager for the buses, told reporters on Tuesday at an event staged to tout Ford's future vehicles.
About 30 E-450 Hydrogen shuttle buses are working across the U.S. and Canada, and Ford engineers are monitoring them electronically in real time, Lapetz said. The vehicles, powered by a modified gasoline engine, have near zero emissions and get up to 13 percent better fuel economy than their gasoline counterparts, he said.
Nearly every automaker is testing hydrogen-powered vehicles across the world, touting them as a renewable alternative to gasoline.
Chena Hot Springs eyes hydrogen as energy source
By Stefan Milkowski July 8, 2007
Now that its ground-breaking geothermal project is up and running, the Chena Hot Springs Resort is looking to the next big thing.
By next month, the resort will begin using hydrogen to replace propane for cooking and in clothes dryers and gas fireplaces, the resort’s energy expert, Gwen Holdmann, said Friday.
It also plans to rely on hydrogen for the vehicles it uses to bring passengers and supplies the 60 miles from Fairbanks, though maybe not by August.
The hydrogen projects would make Chena Hot Springs the first in the state to use hydrogen energy, according to David Lockard of the Alaska Energy Authority.
Last year, the resort, owned by entrepreneur Bernie Karl, installed the first geothermal power plant in the state.
Link to complete article in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
New Process Generates Hydrogen from Aluminum Alloy To Run Engines And Fuel Cells
by Staff Writers
West Lafayette, IN (SPX) May 23, 2007
A Purdue University engineer has developed a method that uses an aluminum alloy to extract hydrogen from water for running fuel cells or internal combustion engines, and the technique could be used to replace gasoline. The method makes it unnecessary to store or transport hydrogen - two major challenges in creating a hydrogen economy, said Jerry Woodall, a distinguished professor of electrical and computer engineering at Purdue who invented the process.
"The hydrogen is generated on demand, so you only produce as much as you need when you need it," said Woodall, who presented research findings detailing how the system works during a recent energy symposium at Purdue.
Link to full story: At Energy Daily
His energy bill is $0.00
A New Jersey civil engineer powers his home with solar panels and hydrogen tanks. Can it work in the mainstream?
| Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
EAST AMWELL, N.J.
monthly utility bill is zero – he's off the power grid – and his system creates no carbon-dioxide emissions. Neither does the fuel-cell car parked in his garage, which runs off the hydrogen his system creates.
It sounds promising, even utopian: homemade, storable energy that doesn't contribute to global warming. But does Strizki's method – converting electricity generated from renewable sources into hydrogen – make sense for widespread adoption?
According to some renewable-energy experts, the answer is "no," at least not anytime soon. The system is too expensive, they say, and the process of creating hydrogen from clean sources is itself laced with inefficiency – the numbers just don't add up.
Strizki's response: "Nothing is as wildly expensive as destroying the whole planet."
Mike Strizki lives in the nation's first solar-hydrogen house. The technology this civil engineer has been able to string together – solar panels, a hydrogen fuel cell, storage tanks, and a piece of equipment called an electrolyzer – provides electricity to his home year-round, even on the cloudiest of winter days.
Mr. Strizki's to see the entire story:
from the March 15, 2007 edition - http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0315/p12s01-sten.html
False promise of the hydrogen age
In The New Atlantis, Robert Zubrin explains why Bush's $6 billion hydrogen-as-energy program is "bad science, bad economics, and bad public policy."
Hydrogen, after all, is “the most common element in the universe,” as Secretary Abraham pointed out. Since it is so plentiful, surely President Bush must be right when he promises it will be cheap. And when you use it, the waste product will be nothing but water—“environmental pollution will no longer be a concern.” Hydrogen will be abundant, cheap, and clean. Why settle for anything less?
Unfortunately, it’s all pure bunk. To get serious about energy policy, America needs to abandon, once and for all, the false promise of the hydrogen age...
Hydrogen is only a source of energy if it can be taken in its pure form and reacted with another chemical, such as oxygen. But all the hydrogen on Earth, except that in hydrocarbons, has already been oxidized, so none of it is available as fuel. If you want to get plentiful unbound hydrogen, the closest place it can be found is on the surface of the Sun; mining this hydrogen supply would be quite a trick. After the Sun, the next closest source of free hydrogen would be the atmosphere of Jupiter...
So if we put aside the spectacularly improbable prospect of fueling our planet with extraterrestrial hydrogen imports, the only way to get free hydrogen on Earth is to make it. The trouble is that making hydrogen requires more energy than the hydrogen so produced can provide. Hydrogen, therefore, is not a source of energy. It simply is a carrier of energy. And it is, as we shall see, an extremely poor one.
Solar Hydrogen Process Produces Energy from Water
Special titanium oxide ceramics harvest sunlight and split water to produce hydrogen fuel. Researchers at University of New South Wales anticipate an energy-harvesting device with no moving parts within 7 years.
Press Release from:
University of New South Wales
NEW SOUTH WALES, AUSTRALIA
A team of Australian scientists predicts that a revolutionary new way to harness the power of the sun to extract clean and almost unlimited energy supplies from water will be a reality within seven years.
Using special titanium oxide ceramics that harvest sunlight and split water to produce hydrogen fuel, the researchers say it will then be a simple engineering exercise to make an energy-harvesting device with no moving parts and emitting no greenhouse gases or pollutants.
It would be the cheapest, cleanest and most abundant energy source ever developed: the main by-products would be oxygen and water. Rooftop panels placed on 1.6 million houses, for example, could supply Australia's entire energy needs.
"This is potentially huge, with a market the size of all the existing markets for coal, oil and gas combined," says Professor Janusz Nowotny, who with Professor Chris Sorrell is leading a solar hydrogen research project at the University of NSW Centre for Materials and Energy Conversion. The team is thought to be the most advanced in developing the cheap, light-sensitive materials that will be the basis of the technology.
"Based on our research results, we know we are on the right track and with the right support we now estimate that we can deliver a new material within seven years," says Nowotny.
Sorrell says Australia is ideally placed to take advantage of the enormous potential of this new technology: "We have abundant sunlight, huge reserves of titanium and we're close to the burgeoning energy markets of the Asia-Pacific region. But this technology could be used anywhere in the world. It's been the dream of many people for a long time to develop it and it's exciting to know that it is now within such close reach."
The results of the team's work was presented today at an international conference.
Eminent delegates from Japan, Germany, the United States and Australia were Sydney on August 27 for a one-day International Conference on Materials for Hydrogen Energy at UNSW.
Among them were the inventors of the solar hydrogen process, Professors Akira Fujishima and Kenichi Honda. Both are frontrunners for the Nobel Prize in chemistry and are the laureates of the 2004 Japan Prize.
Since their 1971 discovery that allowed the splitting of water into hydrogen and oxygen, researchers have made huge advances in achieving one of the ultimate goals of science and technology - the design of materials required to split water using solar light.
The UNSW team opted to use titania ceramic photoelectrodes because they have the right semiconducting properties and the highest resistance to water corrosion.
Professors Nowotny and Sorrell say that with appropriate government support and financial backing, their technology could help Australia become part an OPEC of the future.
'"We have a solar energy empire in Australia and have a moral obligation to utilise this," says Nowotny. "The very same sentiments were shared by David Sukuzi when he visited Sydney recently. He said he hoped Australia would serve as an example to the rest of the world."
Solar hydrogen, Professor Sorrell argues, is not incompatible with coal. It can be used to produce solar methanol, which produces less carbon dioxide than conventional methods. "As a mid-term energy carrier it has a lot to say for it," he says.
At present, the UNSW work is backed by Rio Tinto, Sialon Ceramics and Austral Bricks A major producer of titania slag, Rio Tinto hopes that an early outcome will be a more environmentally friendly and economically attractive local source of fuel for its remote mining operations while Sialon Ceramics is interesting in production and marketing of a solar-hydrogen production device.
Issued Monday 23 August.
Background on solar hydrogen
- 1.6 million individual households equipped with 10m x 10m solar hydrogen panels would meet all of Australia's energy needs.
- Hydrogen generated from water using solar energy constitutes a clean source of energy as neither its production nor its combustion process produces greenhouse or pollutant gases. Hydrogen produced by existing conventional methods emits carbon dioxide at the production stage.
- When this technology matures it would allow Australia to be a leader in solar technology, becoming part of an OPEC of the future. Australia is ideally placed to commercialise this technology as it has abundant sunlight.
- This technology ultimately will reduce Australia's total reliance on coal, gasoline and natural gas, providing energy security.
- Titanium dioxide is plentiful and cheap. Titania ceramics also have many other applications, including water purification, anti-viral and bacteriacidal coatings on hospital clothing and surfaces, self-cleaning glasses, and anti-pollution surfaces on buildings and roads.
- As sources of fossil fuels disappear, the race is on to be the world's leading provider of hydrogen. The US Government recently committed an extra US$1.2 billion to hydrogen research. Japan has launched a 20-year research program that is sending satellites into space in the hope that it can harvest solar energy and send it back to the earth by laser onto cells of titania (TiO2). The European Commission has instituted an intense R&D program in pursuit of solar hydrogen. Iceland aims to be the world's first hydrogen economy.
UNSW'S Solar Hydrogen Program
- The UNSW team's particular expertise is in photosensitive oxide semiconductors.
- UNSW's research program aims for the development of a commercial (i.e., practical and inexpensive) device for the production of hydrogen from photolysis of water using solar energy.
- The UNSW device can be marketed internationally.
- The hydrogen-generating device has no moving parts, so maintenance is minimal.
- Already offers to be involved in UNSW's research are coming from the US, Europe and Asian countries (the LA Resource Policy Institute, for example, has proposed that it become a partner organisation of UNSW.)
Media contact: Mary O'Malley, ph 9385 2873, 043 888 1124, or Susi Hamilton, ph 9385 1583, 0422 934 024.
Hydrogen research takes flight at Tech
Published on: 09/14/06 Atlanta Journal Constitution
Hydrogen has had a bad name in aviation since the Hindenburg burst into flames in 1937.
But a team of Georgia Tech researchers, working from a basement lab, has designed an aircraft that could help the clean-burning gas make a flying comeback. They say their 37-pound remote-controlled plane is a precursor of larger, more powerful unmanned craft that someday will be capable of flying at high altitudes for days or even weeks at a time.
"These high-altitude, long-duration aircraft won't replace commercial airliners," said Adam Broughton, a research engineer at the university's Aerospace Systems Design Laboratory who helped build and flies the group's hydrogen-powered craft. "They'll compete against satellites. The market is ripe for an alternative to satellites."
About a half-dozen Georgia Tech researchers and students spent almost two years and $400,000 designing and building their fragile-looking, long-winged test vehicle. Most of the money came from NASA and Defense Department grants.
The plane flew for the first time in June at a drag strip at Commerce, and the team plans to keep flying and gathering data on its performance and anemic propulsion system. The hydrogen-powered electric motor puts out about 500 watts at full power, less than one horsepower, and it can only sustain that maximum effort for 21 minutes.
The plane's flights to date have been short hops of two minutes or less — and team members say each one is stressful. The awkward craft struggles aloft, and it's loaded with tiny sensors meant to gather a great deal of data.
"Each flight is like hanging your laptop computer over the edge of a building and dangling it by a thread," said Thomas Bradley, a doctoral student in charge of the plane's fuel cells and data acquisition. "The plane flies on the edge. And it represents thousands and thousands of hours of work in addition to all the financial costs."
The plane requires almost 500 feet of runway to get off the ground, and it has barely enough power to climb. It typically flies about 50 mph.
"Flying it is nerve-racking," said Broughton, who has 16 years of experience building and flying a wide variety of remote-controlled planes. "It's definitely underpowered. But this aircraft shows what will be possible when lighter, more powerful fuel cells become available. And some of them are commercially available now."
A push by automakers to develop clean, alternative-fuel vehicles has spurred development in hydrogen fuel-cell technology in recent years. But aircraft demand even more powerful, more robust and lighter-weight engines than cars.
"Making a fuel-cell car is easy compared to an airplane," said Bradley. "An airplane is a very tricky problem."
Hydrogen is especially promising for aircraft, he said, because hydrogen-powered electric motors won't lose power as they gain altitude the way today's air-breathing engines do.
Team members say future hydrogen-powered aircraft will be able to remain aloft for days at a time — and that makes them desirable for aerial surveillance, weather research, search-and-rescue missions and airborne relays for cellphone systems.
Two California firms, Scaled Composites and AeroVironment, have designed high-altitude or liquid-hydrogen-powered aircraft. But the Georgia Tech team says their purely academic approach is unique because they publish and share their methods and test results.
David Parekh, deputy director at the Georgia Tech Research Institute, has set a goal for the team of developing another hydrogen-powered, unmanned craft within five years capable of flying across the Atlantic.
"The performance of this aircraft is marginal," he said. "But the technology could improve by orders of magnitude in a very short time. And I think an Atlantic flight would be extremely compelling."
Asked about the Hindenburg, Bradley rolls his eyes and says the team's aircraft is nothing like the ill-fated hydrogen-filled German dirigible, which exploded over New Jersey.
"If a hydrogen tank cracked open on this airplane, the hydrogen would dissipate," he said. "There's no combustion source on this airplane. Nothing runs hotter than 60 degrees."
The team's balsa wood and composite airplane won't set speed records or win beauty contests. But the builders say it's already proved itself, and they hope it leads to many high-performance aircraft in the future.
"We've built this demonstrator, and everyone in the aviation industry sees the promise of the technology," Bradley said. "The attraction and the interest are there, but most of what we've known until now has been theoretical. We intend to keep flying, keep gathering data and show manufacturers that — if they can get the weight down and the power up on some of these propulsion systems — this technology can be viable in the aviation industry."
BMW to Put 1st Hydrogen Cars on the Road in 2007
Firm will offer about 100 vehicles, which also burn gasoline, to certain users in Europe and the U.S. Challenges remain.
By John O'Dell, Times Staff Writer September 13, 2006
German automaker BMW said Tuesday that it would begin distributing the world's first hydrogen-burning cars to selected users in the U.S. and Europe next year.
The cars are 7-Series sedans powered by 12-cylinder internal-combustion engines capable of burning gasoline or liquefied hydrogen.
BMW, which has been working on hydrogen fuel technology since 1978, will build and distribute about 100 of the vehicles for a variety of uses, said Christoph Huss, vice president for science and traffic technologies.
Automakers believe that hydrogen, the most plentiful element on the globe, could ultimately replace petroleum as the principal fuel for cars and trucks — although numerous issues need to be resolved.
The first of the so-called Hydrogen-7 models, which follows several earlier generations of experimental BMW hydrogen-burning cars, are expected to be delivered in the first half of 2007, Huss said.
Users, who would not be charged for the cars, could include politicians, celebrities, drivers in corporate fleets and members of the public. Some would receive the cars for prolonged periods, others for short test drives.
"If President George Bush said he wanted one for the next two years, we wouldn't say no," BMW spokesman Andreas Klugescheid quipped.
As many as 30 of the cars will be distributed in the U.S., with California a prime test area because BMW already has a liquid hydrogen fueling station at its North American engineering test center in Oxnard. Huss said BMW would work with energy companies to install fueling facilities for the program.
BMW has not put a time limit on the test period, although Huss said it would last "more than one year but not so long as 10 years."
Huss said the European version of the cars could travel about 125 miles using hydrogen before switching over to gasoline for an additional 400 miles.
That's equivalent to about 20 miles per gallon on gasoline and 16 mpg on hydrogen.
The cars' V-12 engines produce 260 horsepower and can accelerate from zero to 62 mph in 9.5 seconds, with an electronically limited top speed of 143 mph.
Huss said BMW was still "very far away from mass production" of the Hydrogen-7 but wanted to put the cars in use to gather real-world information.
General Motors Corp. and other big carmakers are working on fuel-cell vehicles that would use hydrogen in an electrochemical process to produce electricity to power a motor.
BMW's process eliminates the need to develop an entirely new type of power plant. Still, it faces many of the same challenges as fuel-cell technology, including the establishment of a hydrogen fuel manufacturing industry and a fuel storage and distribution system.
Liquid hydrogen requires special storage and retail pump systems because the gas must be cooled to minus 425 degrees and would instantly freeze a human hand if touched.
Unlike fuel cells, a hydrogen-burning internal-combustion engine cannot eliminate polluting emissions. That's because traces of carbon monoxide are produced whenever engine lubricants are vaporized, and nitrogen oxides are emitted in any combustion process.
But the hydrogen engine's basic byproducts are distilled water and steam, the same as with a fuel cell, and BMW says the hydrogen car is far cleaner than any gasoline car.
Ford Motor Co. and Japanese affiliate Mazda Motor Corp. also are working to develop internal-combustion engines that run on hydrogen.
Hydrogen Power System Unveiled in Maine
Aug 28, 2006
By JERRY HARKAVY
WISCASSET, Maine (AP) - A $250,000 demonstration project that produces hydrogen energy to provide backup lighting and warmth at the Chewonki Foundation's environmental education center was hailed at its unveiling Monday as the first of its kind in the nation.
The nonprofit foundation teamed up with the Portland-based Hydrogen Energy Center to develop the system that was touted as an example of the kind of cutting-edge technology that can reduce dependence on fossil fuels and help ease global warming.
"Hydrogen represents a huge growth industry, and the creation of this partnership will put Maine on the leading edge as this industry expands," said Gov. John Baldacci, who signed an executive order to promote the development of hydrogen energy in Maine.
The system unveiled at Chewonki uses renewable power - from solar panels atop the center and purchases of "green" electricity - to produce hydrogen from water through a process known as electrolysis. New technology that produces the gas at high pressure eliminates the need for a costly compressor.
Developers of the system said it's the nation's first publicly accessible direct high-pressure hydrogen energy system as well as the first complete hydrogen energy system in Maine.
Because hydrogen is flammable, the electrolyzer and eight cylinders with an overall capacity of 2,080 cubic feet of the gas are stored in a wood and concrete shed in the woods behind the center.
The gas is then piped into the center, where three fuel cells can each convert it into one kilowatt of electricity. That power will be available in the event of an outage to supply four days' worth of lighting, operation of the building's water pump and warmth for animals that include a turtle, an iguana and an alligator.
"We've tried to resist placing a cost per kilowatt-hour on this because it would be meaningless at this point," said Peter Arnold, Chewonki's project director.
The project, which took more than two years to complete, was designed to demonstrate how hydrogen can be generated, stored and used to provide energy. Funding was provided by the Maine Technology Institute, as well as government sources and private donors.
While the hydrogen generator is educational in nature, speakers at the ceremony indicated that commercial applications for the technology are beginning to emerge.
Maine Oxy in Auburn will be using a much larger version of the Chewonki electrolyzer to produce both hydrogen and oxygen that it plans to sell. At Chewonki, the oxygen produced when water is split into its two components is discarded.
Citing predictions that global demand for fuel cell products will grow exponentially in the next few years, Baldacci signed the order creating the Maine Hydrogen Energy Fuel Cell Partnership.
The governor said the partnership will work to speed the development of hydrogen-related technology in Maine, look at ways to leverage federal research funds and seek to spur interest of private businesses in hydrogen energy and fuel cell products.
Other speakers, including U.S. Rep. Michael Michaud, joined Baldacci in predicting that Maine can enhance its economy by pursuing a leadership role in advancing the use of hydrogen and other alternative energy technologies.
"We are definitely on the cutting edge," Michaud said, suggesting that Maine can help point the nation in a new direction in meeting its needs for energy.
China company starts small with hydrogen-powered car
Monday, July 24, 2006
SHANGHAI, China (AP) - It's a dream that's been pursued for years by governments, energy companies and automakers so far without success: mass-producing affordable hydrogen-powered cars whose tailpipes spew nothing but clean water.
So Shanghai's Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies decided to start small. Really small.
This month, it will begin sales of a tiny hydrogen fuel-cell car, complete with its own miniature solar-powered refuelling station. The toy is a step toward introducing the technology to the public and making it commercially viable.
"Public awareness and education are the first steps toward commercialization," said Horizon founder Taras Wankewycz, 32. "We want to make sure this technology gets adapted globally."
Automakers and energy companies view hydrogen fuel cells as a promising technology that could wean the world from its addiction to crude oil. But it's expensive and technological hurdles remain despite billions of dollars that have been poured into research.
There's the cost and challenge of building fuel cells that convert hydrogen to electricity, and the question of how to cleanly generate the gas and distribute it to fuelling stations that don't yet exist. Though prototype hydrogen cars exist, they're far from practical or affordable.
Horizon's H-Racer and fuelling station solve those problems on a very small scale. The price: $80 US for the set.
The toy's fuel cell, like those envisioned for real cars, relies on an electrochemical reaction to generate the current that powers the gadget's electric motor. Unlike a gas-powered internal combustion engine, the fuel cells's only byproducts are electricity, heat and water.
The fuel is supplied by its alarm clock-sized refuelling station. A small electric current, generated by the solar cells, extracts hydrogen from water. (A battery backup is available for cloudy days.)
When the vehicle is hooked up to the refuelling station, a balloon inside the 15-centimetre-long car slowly fills.
With the flip of a switch, the car takes off and runs for four minutes on a full tank. The gas never ignites - and any would-be recreators of the Hindenburg disaster are likely to be averted by the toy's negligible amount of the gas.
Horizon has bigger plans for the technology. Wankewycz said it's working on ways to make fuel cells more efficient, so that they can be used to power cellphones and laptop computers, and eventually vehicles and households.
Still, what works for a toy isn't close to being ready for full-size cars. For one, it's extremely expensive, said Daniel Nocera, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology chemistry professor and one of the world's leading researchers in exploring how sunlight can be used to extract hydrogen from water.
"Technologies exist to split water with solar cells," he said. "It's just not market-viable yet. . . . To say that it's going to be upscaled or commercialized for an energy society, that's a leap of faith for me."
Still, he admires Horizon's raising awareness about alternative energies through a toy.
"It's a great message to send," he said.
At Horizon's headquarters on the top floor of a nondescript warehouse-type building in a bleak suburban district of Shanghai, Wankewycz and former Eastman Chemical Co. colleague George Gu demonstrated prototypes of a hydrogen-powered electric bicycle and a golf caddy they are converting from lead acid batteries to hydrogen power.
"We're working on the smaller things until the infrastructure is ready," he says.
Unlike the solar-powered toy, the bike and caddy rely on hydrogen extracted from metal hydride canisters. It generates more gas, but it's less environmentally friendly than the technique used for the H-Racer.
In other rooms, two women assemble fuel cells using a customized machine while researchers work on improving the efficiency of Horizon's fuel cell "stacks" - bigger blocks of fuel cells intended for commercial use.
Wankewycz, who was born in France but raised in California, says the company has raised about $5.5 million from venture capitalist investors since it was founded in 2003. Horizon's revenues in 2005 were $170,000 but are forecast to exceed $3 million this year, the company said.
Bigger fuel cell companies like Canada's Ballard Power Systems are working with governments in Europe, the United States and large Chinese cities like Beijing and Shanghai to build fuel-cell demonstration programs for buses and other public transport.
Horizon envisions neighbourhood systems of small shops providing refills for small hydrogen canisters to families, much as they now sell tanks of liquid petroleum gas or propane for stoves and heaters. The canisters could be used to power scooters or small, electric cars suitable for short jaunts, Wankewycz said.
Horizon also is selling thousands of educational science kits that retail for about $50, and it's marketing fuel cell stacks for research purposes. It also hopes to commercialize its fuel cell technology for short-term emergency use, such as powering cell phones in a disaster.
"As soon as we are able to do something, we sell it," Wankewycz says. "Our goal is to be profitable by next year."
Bush promotes hydrogen-powered cars on Earth Day
Sat Apr 22, 2006 6:50 PM ET
By Patricia Wilson
WEST SACRAMENTO, California (Reuters) - President George W. Bush marked Earth Day on Saturday by promoting technology that could reduce U.S. dependence on oil, while Democrats used a spike in gasoline prices to slam White House energy policy.
With oil prices hitting a record high this week and gas at the pump topping $3 a gallon in some places, Bush said he knew Americans were suffering and predicted a "tough" summer driving season.
"When the price of gasoline goes up ... it's a serious problem we've got to do something about," he said. "We're watching very carefully to make sure people are being treated fairly."
Democrats hoping to take control of the U.S. Congress in November elections have seized on the issue to make a populist argument against big oil companies and Republicans' ties to them.
They are also seeking to tap into public angst over rising gas prices as a way to blunt the White House push to take credit for strong economic numbers overall.
For complete Reuters story click http://today.reuters.com/news/articlenews.aspx?type=politicsNews&storyid=2006-04-22T225030Z_01_N21295703_RTRUKOC_0_US-BUSH.xml
The ENV hydrogen-powered motorcycle from British company Intelligent Energy. Its expected price is somewhere below $10,000. It is completely quiet. The fuel cell that powers the bike is removable, and can be used to run other items in your home.
Purdue scientists develop hydrogen-powered fuel cell technology to drive portable electronic devices.
Lesley K. McCullough, Medill News Service
Monday, August 29, 2005
WASHINGTON -- Electronic devices like MP3 players and laptop computers may become dramatically more portable thanks to engineers from Purdue University, Indiana, who today unveiled a new method of using fuel cells, powered by hydrogen instead of methanol, to automatically recharge batteries.
See at: http://www.pcworld.com/news/article/0,aid,122326,00.asp
The widely touted "hydrogen economy" is a particularly cruel hoax. We are not going to replace the U.S. automobile and truck fleet with vehicles run on fuel cells. For one thing, the current generation of fuel cells is largely designed to run on hydrogen obtained from natural gas. The other way to get hydrogen in the quantities wished for would be electrolysis of water using power from hundreds of nuclear plants. Apart from the dim prospect of our building that many nuclear plants soon enough, there are also numerous severe problems with hydrogen's nature as an element that present forbidding obstacles to its use as a replacement for oil and gas, especially in storage and transport. "The Long Emergency"- What's going to happen as we start running out of cheap gas to guzzle?
Getting serious about conservation would be a lot more practical than talking abut the "hydrogen economy." Grandiose plans for hydrogen are unlikely to be realized. See: "The Hype About Hydrogen" by Joseph Romm.
See also: http://www.hybridcars.com/hydrogen-fuel-cell-cars.html
HONDA FCX: June 5, 2005 Honda FCX: What a Gas! A Week in Suburbia With a Hydrogen Honda
By JIM MOTAVALLI
Hydrogen-powered vehicles always seemed at least 20 years away, the subject of news conferences in Washington and static displays at auto shows. All that changed last month when Honda handed me the keys to a 2005 edition of its FCX (for Fuel Cell Experimental), the first zero-emission, hydrogen-driven vehicle to be certified by both the Environmental Protection Agency and the State of California for everyday commercial use. This is a street-ready hydrogen car with license plates and no rough edges, a test bed for green technology worth well over $1 million.
"Having recently completed a fairly in-depth analysis, I have concluded that we could be in an all renewable-efficiency economy in 20 years if we really worked at it."
Energy Engineer Emeritus Kirk Drumheller, Seattle.
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