- The Fraunhofer Institute produced a hydrogen paste that could revolutionize the industry.
- Drivers only have to swap an old hydrogen cartridge for a new one and fill a water tank to refuel.
- The range of the paste can be compared to gasoline and could extend possibilities for drones.
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As the devastating potential impacts of climate change become increasingly obvious, many are turning away from fossil fuels to power their vehicles and looking for alternatives.
A team at the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials IFAM in Germany has now developed a hydrogen paste, POWERPASTE, that may be easier to use especially in smaller vehicles.
Hydrogen-powered motorbikes and scooters
In 2018, the French startup Pragma Industries began selling hydrogen-powered bikes.
However, they were too expensive for the consumer market at over $9,000 per bike and $36,000 for a charging station.
POWERPASTE might be able to solve that problem, with the substance created from magnesium base and stored in the vehicle in the form of a cartridge.
All drivers need to do to refuel is swap out the old cartridge for a new one and fill a tank with water.
“POWERPASTE stores hydrogen in a chemical form at room temperature and atmospheric pressure to be then released on demand,” institute research associate Dr. Marcus Vogt said in a press release.
As the paste only begins to decompose at temperatures of around 480 degrees Fahrenheit, researchers said drivers didn’t need to worry about leaving their vehicles out in the hot sun.
Fuel for the future
“POWERPASTE… has a huge energy storage density,” said Vogt. “It is substantially higher than that of a 700 bar high-pressure tank. And compared to batteries, it has ten times the energy storage density.”
The researchers also pointed out that the range of the paste can be compared with gasoline and may even exceed it.
They suggested that this could make it a viable option for cars or in portable fuel cells on camping trips, and could significantly extend the possibilities of drone usage.
The hydrogen industry looks set to grow significantly in the coming years.
Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates have already backed the startup ZeroAvia, which is developing hydrogen-powered flights.
In 2016, Germany invested $265 million in hydrogen cars and with the rise of viable alternatives, other countries may now follow suit.
The institute is now building a pilot plant at the Fraunhofer Project Center for Energy Storage and Systems in the German city of Braunschweig.
Scheduled to open later this year, they estimate an annual production capacity of four tonnes of POWERPASTE.