How to Use Formic Acid to Power a Bus

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A team of students from the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) named team FAST, showcased a design, first of its type in the world, that allows a bus to be driven on formic acid. The system, which is self-built, is made up of an electric bus that is connected to a small trailer – which the students have named as ‘REX’ – in which formic acid is transformed into electricity. The advantages of using formic acid are that it is CO2-neutral, liquid, sustainable and safe.

The official name of the energy carrier is Hydrozine. It’s 99% formic acid with an agent that enhances performance. Team FAST, which comprises of 35 students, developed this fuel which was unknown till now, all on its own, which is a remarkable feat. At the start of 2016, they showed an preliminary scale model that demonstrated its functioning. After putting in a lot of hard work for another twenty months, they have now further developed it into a system that is stronger by 42,000 times and is able to provide 25kW power.

Scope for expansion

Hydrozine is divided into hydrogen and  CO2 in the trailer that the team built. The hydrogen is then utilised for electricity production that helps power a city bus made by the Eindhoven company VDL. The trailer is called a ‘range extender’ by the team, REX for short because the trailer spreads out the existing range of the bus as an individual component. The team is still conducting final tests with the intent of the bus actually functioning on this principle of using formic acid by this year end.

Numerous Advantages

There are many benefits of hydrozine or formic acid. It is an economical and safe substitute to the transport of hydrogen that has a requirement of large tanks and high pressure. While splitting the hydrazine the CO2 produced is also utilized in the production process, which leads to zero net CO2. Hydrozine has energy density four times than that of a battery and as it is in a liquid state, only a few alterations will be necessary to the present infrastructure of filling stations.

Inauguration of the bus

At a recent event, at the VDMA premise in Eindhoven, Team FAST introduced its exceptional system and presented their achievement of the past year as well as envisioned what these achievements will mean in the times ahead. The first filling station for hydrozine was also introduced. This event also formally initiated the process where many of the students will be exiting the team to be substituted by their successors.

Team FAST’s Presentation

The presentation was rather innovative. The visitors walked in and toured the electric bus which displayed the history of Team FAST inside and all the features and advantages of hydrozine are demonstrated. Then REX was presented, which the animation shown on a LED screen explains in simple language how it works and what the different mechanisms, which can be seen through the transparent hood, actually function.

 

Futuristic Energy carrier

The task undertaken by Team FAST is both commendable and motivated. In collaboration with partners from the whole production chain, Team FAST is making hydrozine a secure, sustainable and regular energy carrier for future use. It aims to pioneer an exclusive mobility concept that can be put into practice in the current infrastructure, one that is absolutely secure and therefore easy to implement in our current lifestyle.

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