Regardless of what Donald Trump might think, the planet is in trouble, and our over-dependence on fossil fuels is partly to blame. They are not safe, they are not clean, and evidence points to them playing a role in climate change (you just need to look out your window on any given day to know it’s real).
That said, the days of fossil fuels are numbered. As Thom Hartmann pointed out in his powerful, almost-prophetic 1998 book, the Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight, there is only so much of the stuff to go around. Like many things on earth, they are non-renewable.
When they run out, human civilisation as we know it may be under serious threat (in a different way to if we keep using them at the rate we do). Thankfully, by developing a water-based fuel, an Australian-Israeli start-up company has given humanity a glimmer of hope for the future.
Yes, you read that correctly. A company called Electriq-Global, that was originally founded as Terragenic, can make fuel from water and a pharmaceutical salt known as BH4.
According to reports, the fuel, which is 60% water, was unveiled at the EcoMotion 2018 Smart Mobility Summit in Tel-Aviv, Israel, in October. The fancy description given by the company was of ‘hydrogen on-demand energy storage solutions’.
In simple terms, the technology takes the hydrogen out of water, and then uses it to produce electricity, which is then used to propel the vehicle. It’s not weak stuff, either. Electriq-Global CEO said the new fuel offers double the range of lithium ion as well as technology that uses compressed hydrogen. What’s more, it does not produce any emissions. Seriously. We’re talking zero emissions.
To put it in perspective, buses powered by battery take five hours to charge, and can travel only 350km on a single charge. However, electric buses that used the new water-based fuel spent 5 minutes being refuelled, and were able to travel 1,100km. How does this compare to Tesla’s electric batteries? This stuff’s better – its energy density is 15 times greater than that of any electric battery on the market currently.
As if that wasn’t good enough, the whole process behind Electriq-Global’s breakthrough is beautifully simple. I mean 3-easy-steps kind of simple.
First, you have the fuel, known as Electriq-Fuel. A catalyst called Electriq-Switch is used on demand to create the reaction whereby hydrogen is released for conversion into electricity. The used Electriq-Fuel is kept, and later returned to a production facility, where it undergoes Electriq-Recycling. This is achieved by adding more hydrogen and water to it, so it can be used again.
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But Wait, There’s More
Seriously, this stuff just keeps getting better. What could be better than clean, simple, recyclable water-based fuel that delivers on distance, refuelling time, and energy density, you ask?
It’s cheap, too. According to company CEO Guy Michrowski, it will cost half the price of petrol – and you won’t need to save up for one or another expensive, convoluted vehicle. Anything that runs on petrol, diesel, or gas can be converted quickly and easily.
There are two reasons Electriq-Fuel will be so inexpensive. Firstly, the water produces half the hydrogen. Secondly, there are no high costs involved in the recycling process.
Before any naysayers assert it will never happen because Big Petro won’t allow it, Michrowski said construction of its first recycling plant in Israel had begun, and more are planned for China, Europe, and the USA.
He added that Electriq-Global has received funding from investors in the automobile, oil, and gas industries, as well as support from the Israeli energy ministry and the US energy department. Looks like it’s full steam, sorry, hydrogen, ahead!