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Car that makes its own fuel

  1. Mar 25, 2006 #1
    I haven't seen this discussed here before. If it has can somebody direct me to the thread.

    http://www.isracast.com/tech_news/231005_tech.htm

    So, anyone who knows about such things, is this a unique idea or is this currently being worked on by several companies? (I haven't heard of this yet and the U.S. DOE website makes no mention either) Is this based on sound science?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 25, 2006 #2

    Pengwuino

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    So let me get this straight... a solar panel heats water to conduct hydrolysis on the metal which feeds hydrogen into the engine?
     
  4. Mar 25, 2006 #3
    All I know is what is in this article. It seems that was the first line of thinking. This is entirely new.
     
  5. Mar 25, 2006 #4

    Cliff_J

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    There are many many scams online about some nonsense about being able to make H2 on a car.

    If you were able to capture all solar energy (1kW/m^2 at noon for lower latitudes) why would you waste 50% on converting to H2 and then waste 70% by combusting it (for a total of 85% wasted energy) when you could use an off-the-shelf electric motor and get 90% or better? That's 6x more efficient, and you'd need a car shaped like the solar racer cars to get by on just 2kW (or 2.7HP) on the road.

    If it were feasible, it would be far more practical to set up a large farm to create H2 and store it for later use because transportation isn't practical if it can only run from 12-3pm. That alone, the lack of energy storage for non-sunlight use, makes the story wreak horribly of a scam.
     
  6. Mar 25, 2006 #5
    Like I said, all I know is what is in the article. However, I don't see where this design invovles the use of solar power at all. (the second paragraph I quoted from the article said it was different) It's not specific on what is being used to heat the water in the metal-steam combuster. Is this why you guys keep implying solar power? I'm not looking to invest or anything, just an idea that I thought was possibly worth asking about.
     
  7. Mar 25, 2006 #6

    Pengwuino

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    oops yah, i incorrectly assumed they would use solar power. I don't understand this though, how hot of a temperature do you need to get the hydrogen off?
     
  8. Mar 25, 2006 #7

    russ_watters

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    It sounds like BS to me (wouldn't be the first I've seen from an Israeli tech magazine), but what they are saying here is essentially that the car will be powered by burning magnesium. :bugeye:

    So that begs the question: where does the energy come from to recycle the magnesium ash?

    This, plus, of course, their predictions on things like cost, availability, etc. are tough to swallow at best.
     
  9. Mar 25, 2006 #8

    russ_watters

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    Look at the diagram, guys - the heat to create the steam is the waste-heat from the engine (hydrogen-fueled reciprocating or just a steam boiler fired by hydrogen if you use fuel cells). The only energy input comes from oxodizing (burning) the magnesium.
     
  10. Mar 25, 2006 #9
    Does it need to be recycled? Can't it be used as is? Like fertilizer ingredients, used in concrete or something. (I'm guessing, I don't know)

    Tough to swallow, I agree. As of yet, we don't have a hydrogen infrastructure anyway, so....
     
  11. Mar 25, 2006 #10

    russ_watters

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    Well, we have a finite supply of magnesium, so unless we want magnesium to be the new oil, we'll need to recycle it. Besides, I doubt we have enough magnesium around to power our cars for very long.
    The point of this car is that it doesn't need a hydrogen infrastructure. Of course, it does need a magnesium infrastructure. :rolleyes:
     
  12. Mar 25, 2006 #11
    I agree, we don't have either. So why would this have any bearing on future cost/availability?

    By my agreeing it was hard to swallow was the I'm not sure how much time/money the gov't has invested in a future hydrogen infrastructure thus far. I know most of the effort has been towards this. I don't see it changing on an un-proven technology.

    And what's with the "roll-eyes"?
     
  13. Mar 26, 2006 #12
    OK Russ,
    Nevermind about the roll-eyes comment. I have done some further investigating on my own and see what you are saying about the feasibility of this system. Some estimates I found, mostly from other science forums, have calculated the "after-recycling" costs would still average out to around $10 (US) per equivalent current gallon of gasoline. (That is using cheaper aluminum instead of magnesium as the catalyst). Still pretty expensive, if you ask me. Pretty much, this whole concept has been de-bunked. Here are some links if anyone else is interested in how I came to that conclusion.

    http://freehydrogen.blogspot.com/2006/01/engineuity-recycled.html
    http://freehydrogen.blogspot.com/2005/10/engineuity-aluminum-or-magnesium-wire.html

    However, I did find another Canadian company that is working on a similar product. I would like to hear your initial thoughts on this, if you don't mind. It even has a video of a working prototype.

    http://www.cleanwatts.com/news/news.asp?id=83
    video: http://www.cleanwatts.com/video/video.asp
     
  14. Mar 26, 2006 #13

    russ_watters

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    As far as I'm concerned, anyone who says 'I have a great idea, but I'm not going to tell you what it is [send me money]' is not worthy of your attention.
     
  15. Mar 26, 2006 #14
    True enough. I am interested in alternative energy so I feel investigating a potential breakthrough is at least worthy of a little investigative work on my part. I have no vested interest if it turns out to be bunk.

    I've done some initial research on this Alternate Energy Corp as well, and they seem to have a seriously shadey past. Aparrently, however, they recently came under new management and seem that they have possibly gone legit. They seem to have their corporation on the up-and-up now, at least. Their patent request hasn't been published (or approved) yet, so no luck on that front.

    They have had some testing done on their ElectroChem Hydrogen Fuel Reactor (ECHFR) at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory on behalf of the US DOE in July 2002. I guess it didn't go so well as they needed further research and development. The question is, have they found something worth a patent? (I doubt it) I'll try to update when the patent application approval/denial is made public.

    Anyway, thanks
     
  16. Mar 26, 2006 #15

    russ_watters

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    Actually, a patent isn't as big of a deal as most people think it is. All it proves is that a person had a unique idea. That fact says nothing at all about whether it is a good idea. And for most ideas, the patent application process doesn't even require that the idea work.
     
  17. Mar 26, 2006 #16
    I know. But at least it might give an overview of how it is supposed to work. Hopefully it will even have some technical drawings. Right now, there's no hard facts to even de-bunk in the public domain.
     
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