Starchmobile: Another Version of the Hydrogen Car
Rather than using aluminum pellets, this version of the alt-fuel car would use starch from the local grocery store.The obstacles are efficiency of conversion and the medium in which the hydrogen is carried.
The hydrogen economy is not a futuristic concept. The U.S. Department of Energy’s 2006 Advance Energy Initiative calls for competitive ethanol from plant sources by 2012 and a good selection of hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles by 2020.
Researchers at Virginia Tech, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), and the University of Georgia propose using polysaccharides, or sugary carbohydrates, from biomass to directly produce low-cost hydrogen for the new hydrogen economy.
According to the DOE, advances are needed in four areas to make hydrogen fuel an economical reality for transportation: production, storage, distribution, and fuel cells. Most industrial hydrogen currently comes from natural gas, which has become expensive. Storing and moving the gas, whatever its source, is costly and cumbersome, and even dangerous. And there is little infrastructure for refueling a vehicle.
“We need a simple way to store and carry hydrogen energy and a simple process to produce hydrogen, said Y.H. Percival Zhang, assistant professor of biological systems engineering at Virginia Tech.