Announcing that you’ve just invented synthetic fuel that produces zero carbon emissions and costs just $1.50 a gallon is a great way to get oil company commandos to burn down your house. But that’s just what a company in the U.K. has done. Cella Energy, an advanced materials lab, says it can turn hydrogen into a fuel that’ll free the world from grasp of fossil fuels.Not surprisingly, the announcement has been viewed with some skepticism. In all honesty, it’s like saying you’ve developed a cure for cancer that uses distilled teddy bear kisses.
So what, exactly, has Cella developed? Tiny, tiny little bubbles that can trap hydrogen. As we all know, hydrogen goes boom really well when you put a match to it. But it’s nearly impossible to store. It’s the lightest and smallest element around and likes to squeeze through the tiniest cracks or even push through porous materials. The best hydrogen tanks leak, there’s simply no way around it. Until now. Cella uses a nanostructuring technique called coaxial electrospraying to trap hydrogen in tiny bubbles. These bubbles are so small that when you put a ton of them in a vial, teacup, or gas tank, they act like a liquid. That liquid burns just like gasoline in an internal combustion engine. And you can store it at room temperature in uncompressed tanks.
It sounds too good to be true. One question pops into my mind: What are the bubbles made of? What happens when you burn them? Well, the bubbles are themselves made up of hydrogen compounds, so they combust with the gaseous hydrogen within them. And when you burn hydrogen, the resulting exhaust consists of nothing more than water vapor.
Cella says the most likely use for its fuel is as an additive to existing gasoline or diesel fuels. Cella hydrogen additive would reduce carbon emissions drastically. What about pure Cella hydrogen fuels? Not likely. Extracting pure hydrogen from water or other hydrocarbons like natural gas is energy intensive and expensive. Of course, those processes may become more efficient and cost effective in the future. And remember, the resulting pure hydrogen Cella fuel just needs to be cheaper or the same price as gasoline, which isn’t getting any cheaper.
Source: Cella Energy