Engineuity: Cars That Go Vroom with Hydrogen and Aluminum
Israel is a small country with few major transportation arteries. It takes just as much time crossing the cities of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem as it does moving between them- about an hour’s drive each way. Matters become worse because the once compact-car-driving Israelis now emulate Americans and hip-hop stars. When a Hummer or a flashy new SUV drives by in Tel Aviv, heads turn and testosterone starts pumping. Even back in Canada, my otherwise conservative recycle-friendly mother, has just bought a new gold GMC SUV to replace her old family sedan. Should we be worried? Israeli scientists, too, are jumping on the hydrogen-powered car bandwagon to find clean energy solutions. One company, Engineuity claims it has proof-of-concept for a new fuel-cell using hydrogen, aluminium and water. What’s left to do is test that the engine works. Our engines are roaring. According to the company’s website, Engineuity’s technology is based on the reaction between light metals such as aluminum and magnesium with water to produce hydrogen and steam. The pressurized hot mixture is fed to a modified internal combustion engine. Inside the engine, the hydrogen is then oxidized by air. In this way, both the chemical energy stored in the hydrogen and the thermal energy produced by the reaction of the metal with water, are utilized.
Concerns regarding safety, fuel distribution and storage are irrelevant, they say, since the hydrogen is produced onboard as it is consumed. Construction of a prototype is underway; the modified engine Engineuity says, can be produced in existing production lines, removing the need for investment in new infrastructures (the cost of which is estimated at billions of dollars).
Refueling an Engineuity engine will be simple: the vehicle will contain a mechanism for rolling metal wire onto a coil during the process of fuelling. The spent metal oxide, which was produced in the previous phase, is collected from the car by vacuum suction.
However, the fact that Engineuity does not answer emails and avoids talking to the press (this TreeHugger is also a journalist) may mean one of two things: either Engineuity is onto something real big- or- plans to develop an on-board hydrogen-aluminum fuel cell have fizzled out.