Researchers at the University of Warwick’s Warwick Process Technology Group are leading a programme called “Hydrofueler” to develop technology to connect petrol stations to the normal natural gas supply to fuel hydrogen powered vehicles. The 2.8 million euro EC funded three year research programme has already drawn interest from Exxon Mobil, and BMW.
One of the problems with using hydrogen powered cars is how do you keep their fuel cells supplied with a ready source of hydrogen? The Warwick researchers believe that much of the necessary infrastructure already exists – the new technology can be fitted to pre-existing filling stations who will then use it to produce hydrogen from the normal pre-existing natural gas pipeline supply system.
To do this however you need to resolve a number of problems. In particular how to produce the hydrogen from that natural gas in a confined space, using a simple automated remotely controlled process. Obviously very large scale industrial processes already exist to produce hydrogen from natural gas but these technologies cannot be scaled down to compact size needed to be practical in a filling station context and the costs of using these processes would be prohibitive.
Peter Dunn | alfa
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