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This is easy enough

Anglo American has struck a partnership with Umicore, of Belgium, to develop technology that would enable vehicles to be filled with hydrogen that is chemically bonded to a liquid.

The FTSE 100 miner said that using such “liquid organic hydrogen carrier technologies” could accelerate the adoption of hydrogen vehicles by avoiding the need for compressed gas refuelling infrastructure. It is funding Umicore to develop technology using Anglo’s metals as catalysts to separate the hydrogen back out of the liquid on board the vehicle to provide “a simpler and cheaper alternative to onboard storage of compressed hydrogen”.

Called methanol. Other alternatives are also available. Like, even, petrol……Although that does mean you don;t need the fuel cell either…..

15 thoughts on “This is easy enough”

  1. If you subtract the hydrogen from methanol, what’s left is carbon monoxide. Not the obvious way to improve air quality.

  2. decnine- yeah, on the face of it it’s a weird proposition since the only advantage of hydrogen is the h2o exhaust. The piece said “liquid organic hydrogen carrier”. As the organic’s carbon its coming out as either co2, co another hydrocarbon, or soot. All of which begs the question why bother (for cars at least?)

  3. So, you convert hydrogen to methanol (energy cost 960 kcal/kg), reverse the reaction in the car to make hydrogen again, burn the hydrogen & presumably the CO produced to make Water & CO2, which in energy terms is just like burning methanol directly. Heat of combustion of diesel is 11,000 kcal/kg (petrol is slightly higher at 11,110 kcal/kg), methanol is 5,410 kcal/kg. So you get half the range from your fuel tank, or make it twice the size. Result: methanol car has same range as an electric car. Lots of expensive catalysts required to do this though, which I guess is AA’s interest in the process if they can get the EU to pay for it…

  4. You could use hydrazine. Although I understand that it’s quite toxic.

    The more you think of the alternatives, the better petrol looks.

  5. Greenfreak bullshit.

    If only we could run cars on that endless resource.

    But the stench would be lethal.

  6. A good idea for cold climates: the 4H can drive the car and the CO can be burnt to provide the heating. They should try it out on those caterpillar tractors people use in Antartica.

  7. Random brit peasant in Spain

    Seems the general benefit of using Hydrogen is the innocuous waste? product at point of use, and this combined with producing the H using solar (of various types) or nukes makes an overall clean cycle.

    The gap being transportation, storage of said H, it being a bit of a bugger to stop it wandering off and doing its own thing… (Aside, whoever thinks we’re going to shove it down the existing natural gas network has some workings to show, not least mixed use)

    All that said, any alternative to H needs to have those same “clean at point of use” characteristics, no?

    Otherwise surely we should use the solar/nuke energy to synthesise petrol and natural gas, for which we have established distribution and the ability to use without massive investment at point of use.

    That is, unless new energy dense thing has similar clean-at-use characteristic to H, we should just continue use of current energy dense thing and focus of “cleanly” producing said thing

  8. Nah… The way it is stated, I think they’re mucking about with catalysed reversible redox reactions.
    It’s a trick any living thing does as well in various places, it’s an indispensible part of our energy generation/retainment chemistry. NAD/H comes to mind.

    Stored as a liquid.. Needing a carrier.. Hmmm… Energy density will always be less than straight-up burning the stuff, or mucking about with liquid hydrogen.

    Mind.. If it’s reversible in-situ it may be a solution to the local storage problem for wind/solar,but I can’t see any such system efficiently powering a car with a substantial energy need… like a lorry/truck.

  9. Or as Charlie Stross said, in A Tall Tail:-

    Back in the nineteenth century, chemists used to joke that you could tell who had just discovered elemental fluorine by reading the obituary columns. But liquid fluorine and hydrofluoric acid are themselves not the worst oxidizing agents out there. Elemental fluorine may be the thuggish hit-man of the halide world, but if you torment it with chloride ions you can turn it into the chemical equivalent of Hannibal Lecter: chlorine trifluoride, an oxidizing agent so malignant that it will set fire to water and burn explosively on contact with sand, asbestos, or rocket scientists.

  10. Seems the general benefit of using Hydrogen is the innocuous waste?

    The “waste” is water vapour, the very thing they are ultimately trying to avoid adding extra of into the atmosphere.

    CO2 in itself isn’t much of a greenhouse gas; the issue is that the small amount of surface heating its radiative backscatter produces warms the oceans, increasing evaporation. Water vapour is a powerful greenhouse gas, and that will heat the oceans more – in a supposed feedback cycle of doooom. (Or create more cloud cover which will reflect solar energy before it reaches the surface – but hey.)

    Hydrogen as fuel will add extra water vapour to the atmosphere no matter how it is sourced. It is not a solution to the “greenhouse effect” or “global warming”.

  11. @Charles Bracknell
    Your numbers look persuasive until you take into account that a diesel.l or petrol engine is about 25% efficient but a hydrogen fuel cell is 60% efficient. If the metals can remove hydrogen from the fuel and it can process it like a fuel cell the lower energy content doesn’t matter so much.

  12. @Alex
    Depends how you compute efficiency.
    25% Chemical energy to shaft power, maybe.
    But in the UK, you need heat, and screen demist, for much of the year. You get that heat for free with ICE because it’s in the 75%.
    If you use fool cell, or battery, you need the heat to come from drivable range. Oh dear.

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