Aluminum Might Be The Solution For Green Cars
|   Friday, June 08, 2012
Aluminum has been around for quite some time in the business of building cars, and its presence doesn't exactly make cars cheap. So what's the catch?

Well, according to an Alchemy Research white paper (via GreenCarReports), this material can be used as fuel, instead of just making panels and wheels from it. Sounds crazy? Well, the chemistry behind all of it actually makes sense, but our unease and skepticism are still not dead yet.

Anyway, they believe the world's future fuel is aluminum and the system that makes is possible is called Alhydro.
The principles are simple and basic. You add aluminum and water and chemistry takes it from there. The reaction between the two elements generates 3 things: aluminum oxide, hydrogen and heat (50 percent of the reaction's energy output). What's more, the hydrogen got this was can be used to in fuel cells. Needles to say, that is a good thing.

5 minutes would be all the refueling time needed. During this time you remove the aluminum oxide, fill in the tank and restock on whatever water the 65 percent efficiency condenser couldn't.

This approach manages to deal with the two major inconveniences surrounding electric cars: batteries with a high enough energy density and a way of producing hydrogen that is energy efficient. Well, that is how the theory goes anyway.

Aluminum is rich in energy: combined with a turbo-generator, we have 6.5 kWh of power from one liter of aluminum. Range wise, if we fill a 60 liter tank, we would have 390 kWh of energy, then going by current standards, and Alhydro powered car would have a range of 1,491 miles or 2,400 km. Bye-bye range anxiety.

The system is also friendly with the environment. Aluminum is not toxic, just look as all the foods that are encased by it, and pollution is also not included since there is no burning going on. Plus, the aluminum dioxide can be recycled and used again and again.

Compared to other fuels, it is also very safe. The risk of going up in a blaze is quite low, when compared to gasoline, diesel, and hydrogen. This means setting up the necessary infrastructure will be easy and cheap.

The downside is that the weight of the car will be huge, potentially compromising some of the aforementioned advantages. Also, while prices for aluminum now are not all that high now, if this goes into practice, you can watch the price go through the roof; it's the simple offer and demand principle at work. Plus, not only cars using aluminum will be more expensive, but also other things using this material, like sodas, foils, and so on. And the process to make aluminum itself is quite expensive and energy intensive, although the use of alternative, renewable energy sources will bring costs down in the future.

Overall, the idea is not without merits, but the disadvantages still compensate them. Maybe in the future things will be different, but now it is too ahead of its time.

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