A city bus that rolls with formic acid and fuel cells
A city bus that rolls with formic acid and fuel cells
author Added by FuelCellsWorks, August 16, 2018

Breathing fresh air: this is one of the cornerstones of Air Liquide's sustainable strategy. To achieve its goal, the company is actively working on various solutions to improve air quality. One of them, a revolutionary urban bus running on hydrozine, was developed by Team FAST

Air Liquide is not only proposing innovations in sustainability, it is also funding promising university projects such as Team FAST (Formic Acid Sustainable Transportation) Hydrozine Urban Bus. Team FAST is a student team attached to Eindhoven Technical University with 35 members. The team is working on a city bus project running on "hydrozine", a liquid substance composed of 99% * formic acid (also called methanoic acid).

Hydrozine, source of electric current

Hydrozine is not a fuel in itself, but becomes so when a "reformer" splits it into hydrogen and CO2 when the vehicle is moving. Hydrogen then feeds a fuel cell, which transforms it into electric current. The propulsion system invented by Team FAST for an urban bus generates a current of 25 kW, which corresponds to a power of 30 to 35 hp. This is enough to propel a bus, even if it is not at a blazing speed.

CO2 neutral and safe

As the device (consisting of a hydrozine tank, the "reformer" and the fuel cell) is still too large, it is housed in a sort of trailer called "REX" or "Range Extender" attached to the rear The VDL brand electric bus benefits from an additional 200 km of autonomy in the current test project thanks to the formic acid contained in the REX which is attached to it. The hydrozine / REX system is CO2 neutral, durable and safe. This technology offers real opportunities for improving the quality of air in cities and towns. The substance has many practical advantages. These include the energy density of hydrozine, four times higher than that of a conventional battery, as well as its liquid form.         

If the urban bus project is still in the testing phase, the team has already managed to start a model of Porsche 911 with a length of 1 m using the same technology. The reason why Team FAST chose to work on a bus is that there are few sustainable alternatives in this area. The bus companies are therefore very attentive when we talk to them about a propulsion system powered by a renewable energy source, offering a range of 400 km and allowing to quickly refuel.

A hydrogen fuel cell?

" Producing green energy intelligently using natural sources such as sun, wind and water is already a major challenge in itself, in any case if it is to be done in a truly sustainable, economical and sustainable way. profitable. Storing and transporting this energy once produced is even more difficult, "says André Vredenburg, Research & Analysis Sales Representative at Air Liquide. " Using hydrozine as a hydrogen carrier (we can actually think of it as a sort of hydrogen fuel cell) is without a doubt a promising innovation that can store high-density energy in a vehicle ."

Next step: REX prototype operational

" We are open to all relevant inventions that can improve air quality and strive to make our contribution, whether technical, financial or both. From this perspective, we are happy to work with universities and students because they are the ones shaping the future. We were delighted to participate in this project and it gives us the desire to continue in this way. Team FAST should have an operational REX prototype by the end of the year. We will then consider the role that Air Liquide could play in the development of this technology. "

* The remaining percent is an additive to also use formic acid at low temperatures.

Source: Airliquide/TeamFAST