Researchers at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, near Oxford have invented a synthetic fuel, which costs just $1.50 per gallon and could run in existing cars. Because it is hydrogen based, it would produce zero carbon emissions.
The new technology, coming as gasoline prices soar, could be available in as little as three years.
Motorists would even be able to drive for 300 to 400 miles before needing to fill up.
The process, being developed by Cella Energy — a spin-off of Rutherford — allows hydrogen to be stored in a cheap and practical way.
“In some senses hydrogen is the perfect fuel; it has three times more energy than petrol per unit of weight, and when it burns it produces nothing but water. But the only way to pack it into a vehicle is to use very high pressures or very low temperatures, both of which are expensive to do. Our new hydrogen storage materials offer real potential for running cars, planes and other vehicles that currently use hydrocarbons on hydrogen”, said Professor Stephen Bennington, lead scientist on the project.
Working with the London Centre for Nanotechnology at University College London and University of Oxford, Bennington and his team use tiny micro-fibres 30 times smaller than a human hair. These form a tissue-like material that is safe to handle in air. The new material contains as much hydrogen for a given weight as the high pressure tanks currently used to store hydrogen and can also be made in the form of micro beads that can be poured and pumped like a liquid.
Cella says it has attracted interest from large established companies in the energy and transportation sectors and in January received investment capital from Thomas-Swan & Co Ltd., a company with nearly 90 years of experience in making high performance chemical products including nanomaterials.
(READ more at Daily News and Analysis)