Renewable Fuel Offers Alternative To Battery Powered Electric Cars

July 3, 2011 | 19:06
Renewable Fuel Offers Alternative To Battery Powered Electric Cars
Renewable Fuel Offers Alternative To Battery Powered Electric Cars
The electric car is everybody’s darling but there are still technical difficulties to overcome before we’ll witness full-scale implementation. One of the more pressing matters is finding a good method to store the energy that powers the car. One solution is using batteries but this has disadvantages. The charging time of several hours makes it impractical for long journey’s, the battery's heavy weight reduces driving performance and a new infrastructure of charging stations needs to be installed.

An innovative renewable fuel called carbazole could replace batteries as an energy carrier. Wolfgang Arlt, professor at the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg, is researching a method to store large quantities of hydrogen in the fluid carbazole. After the carbazole is pumped into the car the process is reversed and pure hydrogen is extracted from the fluid. The hydrogen then serves to power a fuel cell or an internal combustion engine.

Running a car on carbazole is a brilliantly clean process. The carbazole itself isn’t burned, it only discharges the hydrogen. The discharged carbazole is stored in a separate tank. When the car is being refueled at a filling station, the energy deficient carbazole is returned to the cycle to be charged again. It takes 2.8 kW/h to charge 1 kg (2.2 lbs) of carbazole. If the electricity comes from a renewable energy source, it becomes a renewable fuel. The only waste product emitted by the car is water.

Carbazole can be recharged locally but it can also easily be transported to a power plant. Unlike pure hydrogen, carbazole does not explode when it interacts with oxygen allowing it to be transported through pipelines. Its transportability can make carbazole a serious contender for energy storage in the smart grid. Energy which is won in remote places like solar farms in the Sahara desert or offshore wind farms can be stored in carbazole and transported to any place in the world without loss. Offering a possible solution to the intermittency problem of renewable energy sources.

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