You know how much fun it is to break off the opener tab of a soda can and drop it into the can once you're done with the soda? (So much fun!) Well, two Spanish engineers have taken that experience one step further. Their DAlH2Orean remote-controlled car runs on a combination of recycled aluminum soda can tabs and sodium hydroxide, creating a zero-emissions hydrogen vehicle.
Created by Aleix Lovet and Xavier Salueña of the Polytechnic Institute of Catalonia, the DAlH2Orean has the honor of being the world's first remote-controlled car to run on aluminum soda can tabs. Essentially, the car uses hydrogen power generated from a chemical reaction in which the aluminum tabs are mixed with a solution of sodium hydroxide and water. The hydrogen generated from this reaction powers a hydrogen fuel cell, which in turn powers the car. The energy is clean, with no CO2 emissions at all. The full reaction is slightly more complex than that, involving a few filters (silica gel to remove moisture, vinegar to remove hydroxides), but that's the basic idea.
The car itself is capable of running nearly 20mph, with a range of about 40 minutes, which is pretty impressive given how small it is. The duo that created the project hopes to eventually create "microcars" with much more power, yet the same zero-emissions attributes. We just have to wonder if those teeny London black cabs count as "microcars."
I could swear that Doc Brown dropped in that aluminum can into his fuel tank after pouring in the contents.
Now, exactly where do they dump the toxic sludge left behind from this "chemical reaction"?
The entire point behind hydrogen fuel cells is that the "toxic sludge" that is generated by the reaction is distilled water, pure H2O.
Agreed. I have to call Shenanigans on this one. What with the hydroxide and silica, there is plenty of waste being produced. Hence the filters. "Zero CO2 emmisions" ╪ "clean."
Cool? Very. Clean? Not so much.
@combatko & AIBme
From the dalh2orean website.
"A vinegar filter
The residue of aluminium and sodium hydroxide dissolved in water are placed inside the tank car. The aluminium reacts with sodium hydroxide and generates hydrogen, which is filtered through a vinegar filter with water to remove traces of hydroxides. The hydrogen passes to another filter containing silica gel ball where it loses moisture to enhance its performance. Finally, hydrogen reaches the stack generating electricity through a membrane that separates electrons from the protons until they meet again in an environment of oxygen, producing water, and energy that powers the engine. A eco system this system is absolutely clean, it does not generates C02 emissions and closes the cycle of aluminium, reducing pollution caused by its extraction, the use of aluminium is because it is a residual and when enters in contact with sodium hydroxide produces hydrogen and aluminium hydroxide and sodium hydroxide, which can be reused. The aluminium hydroxide can be converted in alumina throughout a calcination process. With the alumina, aluminium can be obtained, in this case is more pure than the aluminium is currently recycled, and the same purity which is extracted from opencast mines bauxite, which is very dangerous for the environment. Moreover, the only residue that occurs within the filter vinegar, which react with traces of sodium hydroxide, is salt water is the same type that gives flavour to the bag of crisps (sodium acetate). "
Yep basically the same problem that people forget for electric cars and hydrogen fuel cell cars.
An electric car might not be generating any pollution, but you need to get that electricity from some place. The same is true of generating in hydrogen you need energy to do the separation.
Now think to where you get that energy. If we burn coal to get you that energy there is nothing zero emission about the full process.
As a matter of fact your house is the cause of a lot more pollution then your car and it doesn't put out any CO2.
Cost per mile and is it financially viable for the consumer?
"to move a vehicle about 5 hp for an hour would take about 3 kg of aluminium and about 30kg for a 60CV engine"
The 60CV(59hp) motor would need 66 lbs of scrap aluminium and in my local area recycled cans go for .50/lb which comes to $33.00 per hour USD
However I do not know how fast the 59hp car is moving, so how many miles per lb of aluminium is this proposed micro-car getting? Assuming it is rolling at 60mph on the highway, this becomes a very expensive situation. Even at current petro prices my Chevy Metro(Suzuki Swift) does much, much better than this; averaging about 33mpg on the highway, at 60mph utilizing the bone stock 55hp mill, costs me $3.79 at current local petro prices.
So do I want to pay $3.79 for an hour of drive time, or $33.00 for an hour of drive time.
Whether the claims being made by these guys concerning the "sludge" are overly optimistic or not, the bottom line still just isn't there; and, if aluminium becomes a "fuel source", then prices for scrap would likely jump considerably. For me, unless I really overlooked something, where the rubber meets the road, this is just another over priced dream. Hope people keep looking for the solution, but I don't think this one is going to work out unless the price per hour drops dramatically.
Thank you very much RatRob that is was very informative!
Pretty cool, now I see all these can tabs my nieces and nephews horde for school are really to fuel remote control cars.
For the love of Pete...
Given A and B both pump out CO2 and you've modified A to no longer, that is a net loss in CO2 emissions.
Everyone who is complaining that electric cars aren’t solely powered by solar panels in the back yard can get a grip.
Yep, it's pretty cool I think that these guys found a cool idea to re-use existing material to power the toy; and not only is it a net loss in CO2 emissions, but if the guys that worked on this are to be believed, it is actually creating a possibly valuable byproduct of aluminium hydroxide; too bad it is not currently economically viable to drive around on soda/beer cans at $33.00/hour@60mph.
Maybe this device could be used at "Land Fills" to recycle Aluminum.
All very nice if you have aluminium from recycled products, but, who knows how much energy from no zero contamination you need for get pure aluminium from mines resources?
IS NOT ZERO-EMISSIONS CAR
You guys are missing this point. This is not the solution for clean energy. This is innovative thinking that will someday lead to discovering technology that will be green.
Who would have thought a F*ck Tab had a second possible use?
Keep in mind that it takes a LOT of energy to produce aluminum from aluminum ore. In fact, that is exactly why recycling aluminum is so important. Likewise, sodium hydroxide takes a good amount of energy to produce in the first place.
So no, you may not have any CO2 coming out of the tailpipe, but this is far from being a "cheap" or "clean" source of energy!
It is a relatively easy way for an amateur scientist/engineer to create a lot of hydrogen, and play around with hydrogen technology. Just don't fool yourself into thinking this will *ever* be an economical or eco-friendly source of hydrogen.
I think it pretty unfair for the shots some of you are taking at this development. What? It has no merit because it isn't ready to power a tractor-trailer rig within 2 months of it's invention? GET REAL. It gives a route of development for a POTENTIAL power system. Even if it proves unsuited for automobile technology, I'm pretty confident there are a whole lot of others it is suited for.