It's a 21st-century conundrum: You want a power-assisted bike that's electrically powered and that packs an energy density (and a light weight) that lithium-ion batteries simply can't provide. But the idea of strapping a tank of compressed hydrogen between your legs makes you somewhat uncomfortable as well. SiGNa Chemistry has a solution: a metallic metal powder of sodium silicide that generates hydrogen as soon as it comes in contact with water.
The company claims the sodium silicide is a safe and stable powder, and when it generates hydrogen it does so at a pressure less than that inside a soda can. Pump a cartridge of the stuff full of water – it doesn't have to be drinking water, you can reportedly even use urine in a pinch – and the powder generates hydrogen to fuel the power assist on your bike, leaving behind only eco-safe sodium silicate and water vapor. The spent cartridge can be swapped for a fresh one; no need to wait around for a recharge.
Next to lithium-ion batteries, the SiGNa cartridges are far more dense, packing 1,000 watt-hours per kilogram versus just 65 watt-hours per kilogram for Li-ion. That means a 1.5-pound fuel cell system should be able to power an average bike for up to 60 miles without any pedaling. Pre-orders for the cells are being accepted by SiGNa now, but you probably won't see them installed on a bike until next summer.
I appreciate the innovation of this tech, but even I - being an over weight person- can see that we have become a society of lazy people. Just wow...
Is this technology being tried in cars?
electronically assisted bicycles are the next cars.
I'm curious: the reaction resulting from sodium silicide's combination with water has been long-documented. Why is this now just being explored as a relatively low-cost (I'm assuming low cost, why else would I waste this energy on a bicycle?) form of chemical energy? Has there been a leap in industrial/manufacturing capacity relating to production of Na2Si? I guess I'm sceptical because it sounds a little too good to be true.
Fuel cells are already too good to be true - they certainly make more sense than a Li-ion battery the size of a refrigerator. But yeah, I'm really curious how cheap that sodium silicide is going to be.
Maybe the price of sodium silicide will come down from today's $20-$30/pound with expanded use? A dollar a mile, just for the fuel, seems a bit steep.
I bike a lot and would bike to more places if hills didn't slow me down to 4 to 6 MPH, take much energy and cause me to need a shower on arrival.
This idea would extend my biking range, especially if used as a pure hill assist with the bonus of less weight on normal terrain compared with batteries. If used conservatively, you could commute a lot more miles and perhaps have more energy left at your work destination for example. I’m not looking for a mo-ped, but a quiet, light weight, frictionless drive system to help me get a modest workout as I commute to work each day does seem good; as long as it is under $1,000?
Cool propulsion but that bike looks totally lame.
does anyone else see how pointless this is?
so we replace our need for oil for our need for sodium silicide which is another none renewable recourse.... I can't be the only one that sees why this tech fails right?
lnwolf41 From someone who rode a bike infrequently; this would be a good change; as riding a bike gives you pain in the butt. If you build a large tricycle for carrying cargo"ie food" this would be a good application, especially for older folk who maybe don't do mountain biking every weekend.
as for cost that would be a factor,but what little info gathering I did. It is used in industrial applications so the greeness is iffy.
at dex drako
Nope, doesn't fail a bit. See the world doesn't really need more renewable energy to replace fossil fuels, there's plenty of renewables all around us.
What the world needs is an energy carrier, thats all oil is.
Remember there is no free lunch, even with oil. It takes energy to create any sort of fuel, we don't notice it with oil etc because it was created naturally over eons. We don't realize that in the end what we are burning is stored gravity and (by in large) sunlight (pressure and living materials). So forget about renewable oil is actually renewable, our living matter will replace our burned oil in a few eons.
But making Sodium, and Silicon are large industries, ones that mostly require heat and electricy, both energies that are easily scavenged from our surroundings. Plus Sodium and Silicon can be produced in large quanities and once Sodium Silicide becomes Sodium Silicate, it can be recharged again back in to a fuel.
Really, this is just a type of battery.
Thats all we need to replace oil, a much, much better battery.
As usual with these technologies, PEOPLE keep FORGETTING the ENERGY behind the DOOR!
How much energy was used to create the powder in the first place? I will bet you my CAR that it's not even CLOSE to break even!
Wake up! Look behind the Gee Wiz will you please!
How much better is this battery system if you factor in the weight of the water needed to activate it?
Conservation of energy suggests it will always take more energy to create a portable power source than said source provides, and the best we could ever hope for would be to break even.
Lithium ion batteries take large amounts of energy to create as well, and they produce hazardous materials in the process. Does that mean we should burn our laptops and throw away hybrids? No, it means you continue to look for better solutions, like we've always done.
I don't know if this is a viable Li-ion replacement or not but we desperately need a next gen battery.
the only thing that should power a bike is your leg muscle, and nothing else.
all i need to do is sprinkle this magic powder over my broomstick can fly EEEEHEHEHEHE!