A startling new discovery made by scientists at the UK’s Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), is proving a truly viable solution to the challenges of storage and cost of alternative fuel. The discovery uses ammonia as a clean and secure hydrogen-containing energy source in order to produce hydrogen on-demand.
Researchers claim that a two-liter reaction chamber can produce enough fuel to power a typical car. The new process for storing and generating ammonia for use in vehicle fuel cells has been invented by chemical engineers.
Professor Bill David, who led the STFC research team at the ISIS Neutron Source, said “Our approach is as effective as the best current catalysts but the active material, sodium amide, costs pennies to produce. We can produce hydrogen from ammonia ‘on demand’ effectively and affordably.
“Few people think of ammonia as a fuel but we believe that it is the natural alternative to fossil fuels. For cars, we don’t even need to go to the complications of a fuel-cell vehicle. A small amount of hydrogen mixed with ammonia is sufficient to provide combustion in a conventional car engine. While our process is not yet optimised, we estimate that an ammonia decomposition reactor no bigger than a 2-litre bottle will provide enough hydrogen to run a mid-range family car.
“We’ve even thought about how we can make ammonia as safe as possible and stop the release of NOx gases,” added Professor David. “This fundamental science therefore has immense potential to change the use of hydrogen as a fuel.”
The new process, which they write about in their study publishing these revolutionary findings, may be just the thing that is needed to propel green fuel technology forward.
Hydrogen, after all, is considered by most to be the best alternative fuel for automotive purposes. Until now, however there have been complications with its safe and efficient storage. Furthermore there have been significant concerns surrounding the costs of a hydrogen infrastructure for transportation.
This new discovery, however, may very well have found the answers to both these challenges.