Friday, December 24, 2010

An Alternative To Petroleum Fuels?

Let's hope this works and let's hope it's scaleable.   Researchers at CalTech have developed a solar reactor that produces a liquid fuel that could be used in place of gasoline or diesel.   It's based on cerium, an element as abundant as copper.

Cerium reacts to heat by shedding its oxygen molecules.   As it cools it will draw oxygen molecules from water, releasing hydrogen.  Liquefy the hydrogen and you have a fine fuel for internal combustion engine technology that emits - no, not CO2, H20 - water.

The CalTech folks think this should be an affordable alternative to fossil fuels.  It could also erase the last refuge of fossil fuels - the transportation problem.  Cars and trucks can easily run on hydrogen.   The solar/cerium reactor may just fill the niche in the alternative fuel mix.


LMA said...

We desperately need an alternative transportation fuel because people can't/won't stop driving. Schindler has stated it is unrealistic to believe that dirty oil such as the Tar Sands will not be developed. Suzuki hopes that at the very least we will not burn dirty oil for transportation and heating. Nice to know people with brains and expertise are working to find a solution.

Merry Christmas to all, and thanks for all the great posts in 2010, MoS.

WhigWag said...

Good news, but a typo: it's Ce_r_ium

The Mound of Sound said...

@LMA - and a Merry Christmas to you, LMA. Your encouragement has been really helpful.

@WW - thanks for the sp correction. And a Merry Christmas to you too!

Yes it would be wonderful if we can come up with a clean, alternative energy transport fuel. This solar/cerium reactor also resolves one of the weaknesses in solar - that it is limited to daylight.