Hydrogen is another one of those “just around the corner” technologies for powering all of our vehicles. You can use it to run a fuel cell or burn it directly in an internal combustion engine. Either way works, but almost every solution requires high pressure cylinders or very low temperatures to store it before use which makes vehicle applications difficult. A new development creates a chemical hydride in the form of micron sized microbeads that will flow like fuel and enable storage at ordinary temperatures and pressures.
The process uses two tanks in the vehicle. One contains the beads charged with hydrogen, the other is the waste tank containing the beads after the hydrogen has been released. The beads flow from the storage tank to what’s called a hot cell, heating the beads enough to release the hydrogen, the heat for the hot cell is supplied by the engine. The gas moves to a hydrogen buffer which holds it before continuing to the engine. The buffer stores enough hydrogen for restarting the engine until sufficient engine heat is available to release more hydrogen from the stored beads.
The used beads are exchanged for fresh when refueling and hydride regeneration is done off site at a location where the necessary equipment is located.
It seems like a straight forward process, but, as always, it’s not yet at the commercial stage. It does sound more practical than some previous methods and may be the one that works.
Thanks for the tip, Paul!