The car that produces its own fuel without polluting

The car that produces its own fuel without polluting

Hydrogen production within the vehicle at the same rate as consumption

In 2015, carbon dioxide emissions in Israel was 70 million tons. Nearly 40 percent of this amount was generated by vehicles. Hydrogen is the most promising candidate to replace fossil fuels, and the most important and urgent application of hydrogen is to power vehicles. A number of obstacles must be overcome before commercial hydrogen is used; the most prominent obstacle is the lack of safe and efficient storage technology inside the vehicle.

Hydrogen-fueled cars rely on hydrogen gas produced at central facilities or distributed in liquid or compressed form through gas stations. Hydrogen liquefaction takes about 40 percent of the stored hydrogen energy content, while the energy density of the gas, even when compressed, is so low that it is unlikely to be able to fuel a regular car.

One possibility to overcome the storage problem is to produce hydrogen in the vehicle at the same rate it is consumed by the engine. A reaction between light metals and water is one method to produce hydrogen within a vehicle. The chemical reaction between light metals and alkaline solutions can occur at a relatively low temperature. The water's reaction with the metal stores large amounts of hydrogen, as measured in mass and volume, relative to alternative technologies.

This project describes a process in which metal is used to store and transport solar energy from a vehicle manufacturing site; in the vehicle it is used as a means for producing hydrogen and heat. This method eliminates the need for the distribution, storage, and pumping of hydrogen at filling stations, and reduces the amount of hydrogen stored in the vehicle to a minimum. The solar fuel cycle consists of two stages: 1) the production of the metal through an endothermal reaction in a solar power plant and 2) the hydrolysis of the metal within the vehicle to create hydrogen and metallic acid. The metallic acid is collected from the vehicle and recycled in step 1.

Generating hydrogen in this way reduces the need for expensive hoses and dispersion systems. Hydrogen production by renewable energy results in a non-carbon energy system, so hydrogen fuel can contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants in Israel.

Tareq Abu-Hamed Ph.D

*The article at the " TheMarker" magazine.