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Alternative energy news, and information about renewable energy technologies.

Apr 20

Breakthrough to Advance Hydrogen Car Production

Posted in Energy Inventions | Hydrogen Fuel | Transportation

Hydrogen Car Production One of the main hurdles in the field of hydrogen car research is the development of a good fueling system. Professor Issam Mudawar along with his research team has developed a hydrogen storage system that would allow a car tank to be filled in five minutes and you can drive on that fuel for 300 miles.

But turning the above abstract idea into a reality was not a cakewalk for the project team which is funded by the General Motors Corporations. The biggest obstacle was the problem of heating while one is refueling the tank. According to Issam Mudawar who is the Purdue University (PU) Professor of Mechanical Engineering , “The hydride produces an enormous amount of heat. It would take a minimum of 40 minutes to fill the tank without cooling, and that would be entirely impractical.”

These hard facts posed a great challenge to the Purdue University research team. The heat effect has to be countered and the time limit for refill has to be shorter. For refueling they have used a very fine powder, known as metal hydride. This powder absorbs hydrogen very efficiently but can’t do anything regarding the release of huge amount of heat. Therefore a very good cooling system at all the refueling station is of vital importance.

The research team was working on a solution which can do something substantial concerning heating. They needed accessory connectors that can work at the same time to take away the heat while refueling process was on. So the researchers have to overcome this hurdle and design an efficient heat exchanger. They have to be a pioneer in the field because no one had treaded on that path before.

Keeping the complications in mind the team has developed a system where metal hydride is placed in small “pockets” inside a pressure chamber. They injected hydrogen in pressure compartments and it gets absorbed. But the wonderful thing is this reaction is reversible. Therefore the hydrogen gas is released from the metal hydride by lessening the pressure in the storage vessel. They fixed the heat exchanger inside the hydrogen storage pressure vessel.

Mudawar explains, “Due to space constraints, it is essential that the heat exchanger occupies the least volume to maximize room for hydrogen storage.” The cooling system utilizes the regular automotive coolant which flows inside a U shaped tube between the pressure chamber and the aluminum heat exchanger. The exchanger is designed in such a way that when the hydrogen enters into the metal hydride, a smooth temperature absorption mechanism starts functioning. Darsh Kumar, a researcher at General Motors Corporation is hopeful, “As newer and better metal hydrides are developed by research teams worldwide, the heat exchanger design will provide a ready solution for the automobile industry.”

  • russ

    What about an easily replaceable fuel cell – do the filling & cooling off line.

  • Francisco A Roque

    Hi. I have a question for Professor Mudawar. Instead of refueling… how about replacing tanks? I mean, you come to the station, get your empty tank and get another full, just like people do with propane tanks, and of course… easy to connect and disconnect.

    Francisco A Roque

  • Arun

    This is great. As I read this column, this gives me to drive my creative ideas, as being a product designer, I can see where this research idea heading towards. Just a quick comment, to add on this emerging technology, through designers point of view, would it be possible to integrate this design in the homogeneous body of the hybrid vehicle it-self. I mean imagining the entire chemical action, hydrogen storage vessel, being taken place at molecular level and inbuilt in the vehicle it self and whenever requires the entire system could be replaceable and reversible. I guess the energy produce through technology can also be used to power homes. Would it be possible to develop it at domestic scale to generate energy?

    A small comment or suggestions worthy appreciable. Thank you alternative energy news community.

  • luxematic

    I really like your idea Arun. I think it could be possible in the near future.

  • Vince

    I dream of the day when we will get the hose pipe out and fill our tank with water.

    The car will have everything it needs to split the hydrogen and oxygen out.

  • Bre

    I have one simple question, and pardon me if i seem unintelligent for this question, what make the fill up times and mileage any better than a regular car? My mother owns a truck that takes her anywhere around three to five minutes to fill up at empty, of course this is dependent on the particular gas station, so how do plan on making it less time consuming for your impatient client who wants the least time consuming way out? In order to get people to change you have to entice them in someway, simply telling them it will save the environment sadly will not be enough. people are lazy and want whatever is best for them, not everyone or everything around them.

  • Brian

    You can live for a month without food, a week without water, but only a few minutes without air. Bottomline, the government needs to regulate air quality so industries and consumers will simply have to adapt. In the end, our decisions now should be based on our children’s future, not ours.

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