Hydrozine consists of 99% formic acid. The rest is an additive that makes formic acid applicable under all circumstances, like cold weather. Formic acid is a molecule that consists of both carbon dioxide (CO2) and hydrogen (H2). It is a chemical molecule that is found in nature in for example ants. In industry, it is often used as a livestock food preservative.
We use formic acid to carry high amounts of energy. Under the influence of a catalyst, formic acid can be split into CO2 and H2. A new catalyst invented at the TU/e by the group of dr. Evgeny Pidko, sparked our interest in formic acid as an energy carrier.
The catalyst we currently use was developed by dr. G. (Gábor) Laurenczy at the research group ISIC Group of Catalysis for Energy and Environment at the Institute of chemical sciences and engineering at the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL). This catalyst is much more stable than the old one and uses water as the solvent. Dr. Laurenczy developed a catalyst that merges hydrogen and CO2 into formic acid and vice versa, this was previously possible, but never this stable. Besides it being much more stable than the old one, it also uses water as the solvent. To produce the formic acid, energy is needed to bind the H2 (from the water) to the CO2. In our system, formic acid is converted to H2 and CO2. This is shown in the illustration below.
The hydrogen (H2) can in turn be injected into a fuel cell to generate electricity and power the electric motor. The tailpipe emissions are only CO2 and water; no other harmful gases like nitric oxides (NOx), soot or sulphuric oxides (SOx) are emitted.
Calling Hydrozine a sustainable fuel might seem odd because it emits CO2. However during the sustainable production of Hydrozine, CO2 is taken from a carbon source (be it air, exhaust fume, biomass etc.) and converted with water to formic acid. We work together with partners who are testing a formic acid production facility that ferments biomass, in this way the carbon cycle is closed.
Aside from a bus, any other application that needs electricity, heat, water or CO2 can use Hydrozine. In the future, Team FAST will develop other technologies that work with Hydrozine.
Advantages of Hydrozine
Refuelling your Hydrozine car is just as easy as refueling a standard gasoline car. There is no need to wait for a battery to recharge at a charging station. Especially for the heavy transport sector this is very convenient, because after a short stop the trucks and busses can easily continue their journey.
Due to large variations in solar power and wind speeds, renewable energy causes large peaks in production. At these productions peaks, Hydrozine can be produced with the surplus of energy. This Hydrozine can then be used wherever and whenever needed, fulfilling society’s demand for a stable and sustainable energy supply.