Archive for January, 2011

Synthetic Gasoline For $1.50/Gallon and No Emissions

Friday, January 28th, 2011

Hydrogen-fuel-650

Administrations dating back to the Nixon years have touted a “get off foreign oil” policy that, to date, has really gone no where. We’re still on foreign oil. But now we might have a chance to get on foreign synthetic gasoline. A research collaboration in England has resulted in a synthetic, hydrogen-based fuel that would be more stable in price than oil and would produce no carbon emissions when burned in a combustion engine.

The fuel was developed by scientists from Cella Energy — a spin-out company from Rutherford Appleton Laboratory — University College London and Oxford University. It’s based on a complex chemical compound called a hydride that contains hydrogen. Hydrides are used in batteries, such as nickel-metal batteries, to store energy, and have been looked at for storing hydrogen in fuel cell-powered electric cars.

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The problem, according to Cella Energy, is that conventional means for containing hydrides are not great. According to the website:

“Storing hydrogen up to now has required either high-pressure storage cylinders at up to 700 times atmospheric pressure or super-cooled liquids at -253°C (-423°F). Neither is practical on a large scale as these hydrogen storage methods both require large amounts of energy to either pressurise or cool the hydrogen, and present significant safety risks.”

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Cella Energy has a found a low-cost way to trap the hydride compound inside a nano-porous polymer micro bead. They say:

The hydrogen storage materials are stored at ambient temperatures and pressures, this means that the Cella Energy hydrogen storage materials can be packaged in a regular shaped fuel tank. They do not require the large heavy cylinders designed to withstand high pressures normally associated with hydrogen storage.

The micro-beads make hydride more efficient as a fuel, they help filter out the damaging chemicals and protect the hydrides from oxygen and water, so that they don’t react and can be handled in air. The final product looks like white tissue paper or a powder.

And because the micro-beads move as a fluid, they can be used in the following way:

  • as a way of storing and delivering hydrogen safely for use in an internal combustion engine or a fuel cell
  • as a fuel additive to reduce the carbon emissions from a hydrocarbon fuel such as gasoline, diesel, JP-8, jet-fuel or kerosene

“Early indications are that the micro-beads can be used in existing vehicles without engine modification,” said Cella Energy CEO Stephen Voller in this article on Gizmag.

This kind of development could really upend gasoline economies. I’m curious to see where this innovation goes.

Photo: Juice Images/Corbis

Is “Clean Coal” Clean?

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

            When President Obama recently gave his State of the Union Address, he indicated that one of his goals in the future is to eliminate tax breaks for oil companies, and to use those tax dollars to invest in green energy to have our country deriving 80% of our electricity from clean energy sources.  Well, I thought that sounded pretty awesome, not to mention rather ambitious, but then he mentioned that we would need to include “clean coal”.  Clean coal?  Is there such a thing? (more…)

Plastic Bags Heading for Extinction?

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

Hooray for Italy.  Italy is the latest country to have banned plastic shopping bags, and the ban went into effect on January 1st of this year.  The bag ban gained steam after a grass-roots movement submitted petitions from over 100,000 Italians to their government.  Several large Italian cities had already imposed a ban on the bags, so it didn’t take much political capital for Italy to require stores to use biodegradable bags.  Italy’s actions will reduce Europe’s usage of over 100 billion plastic bags annually by 20%.  Outstanding!  (more…)

Please Allow me to Introduce Myself

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

Hello, ecoShuttle blog readers!  For this week’s blog, I thought it prudent to introduce myself as the recently appointed blog author.  My name is Mark Klosterman (though if Microsoft Word’s spellcheck had its way, my name would be Mark Lobsterman!), and I am a transplant from the great state of Ohio.  I am a graduate of Ohio University (2006), with a degree in video production and film.   When I’m not working, I enjoy working out, reading, and playing guitar.  I pride myself on practicing green habits such as recycling; reusing things that might normally just get tossed into the garbage, and biking everywhere instead of owning a car. (more…)

US Dept. of Defense is making an effort to Go Green(finally!)

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

The organization known as the world’s largest consumer of diesel and emitter of carbon is trying to make an about face in its relationship with the environment.  The United States Department of Defense is one of few organizations in the developed world that adheres to no environmental standards for vehicle emissions, waste management, or how it disperses toxic materials, but 2010 marked a year in which the United States military endeavored to make a difference ecologically.

(more…)

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