UK: Acta deal brings hydrogen fuel 10 years closer


Acta says a transport system fuelled by hydrogen is a decade closer after striking a deal with an Asian firm, described by the UK chemicals company as one of the world’s largest corporations and which analysts say is a carmaker

If the development project goes well then large numbers of cars could drive on hydrogen in „10 plus” years, as opposed to 20-30 years, Acta’s chief operating officer informed last week. Acta is different from rivals in that it believes that ammonia will be used to create hydrogen in cars, which would cut carbon dioxide emissions and remove the need for bulky hydrogen storing-tanks in the vehicles. Acta makes chemical catalysts that help create hydrogen from ammonia and ethanol in vehicles. The filling stations of the future will be pouring out ammonia, not gasoline, Acta hopes. Although without another chemical to suppress the smell, you will need a mask.

Acta points out millions of farmers already handle ammonia, spraying it as fertilizer, and there are ammonia filling stations across the United States. Even people working within the industry say large numbers of hydrogen-powered cars are at least 30 years away. The main problem is supplying hydrogen to the cars, which requires an overhaul of filling stations and infrastructure as well as the work that still needs doing on the engines. „Most car companies see ethanol as a sticking plaster for carbon emissions while truly green motoring solutions are found,” said Acta’s Chief Operating Officer Toby Woolrych. Ethanol is a biofuel which comes from crops such as corn and whose increased use has pushed up food prices. Although Acta’s catalysts work with ethanol, ammonia is its big hope. „Ethanol has a very important place as a percentage addition to gasoline, but it isn’t a long term solution,” Woolrych said. Woolrych hopes its partner - with whom it has worked for nearly 2 years - will showcase the technology in 2008. „If this unblocks the hydrogen supply problem we expect them to push this hard and fast,” he said. (Petrolplaza)

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