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Oil From Dinner Last Night is Fuel of Tomorrow

Researchers from the University of Leeds led by Valerie Dupont have found an energy efficient way to make hydrogen-based fuel out of used vegetable oil. The "essentially carbon-neutral" process generates some of the energy needed to make the hydrogen gas itself.

Air is blasted onto a nickel catalyst to form nickel oxide, to start the exothermic (heat-giving) process. A fuel-steam mixture is then added, causing it to react with the hot nickel oxide to produce hydrogen gas (H2) and carbon dioxide (CO2). The produced CO2 is then trapped, leaving pure H2 and forcing the reaction to keep running, increasing the amount of hydrogen made.

After doing well in a small test reactor, Dupont and her colleagues now want to scale-up the trials and produce more H2 over longer periods of time.

Scalability is the name of the game. "The beauty of this technology is that it can be operated at any scale. It is just as suitable for use at a filling station as at a small power plant," Dupont points out. "If we could create more of our electricity locally using hydrogen-powered fuel cells, then we could cut the amount of energy lost during transmission down power lines."

  • polly the parrot
    Move over Centerpoint, here comes McDonalds.
    Reply
  • adaman2576
    Carbon neutral
    Reply
  • adaman2576
    carbon neutral??? What will be done with all the excess CO2??? Last time I checked that was a green house gas.
    Reply
  • frye
    adaman2576carbon neutral??? What will be done with all the excess CO2??? Last time I checked that was a green house gas.
    The CO2 comes from the plants, which they absorbed previously while growing. The CO2 added back into the air was in the air last year anyways.
    Reply
  • tharkis842
    Nice ;). I like this.
    Reply
  • opmopadop
    And how much energy is required to make the oil in the first place?
    Reply
  • eddieroolz
    These people are the ones that will drive the innovations of tomorrow. Kudos to the researchers for the discovery!
    Reply
  • crossbow82
    "The helicopter crashed into the landing pad!!"

    "They weren't holding the landing pad right"
    Reply
  • gti88
    Average american should leave, at least 15 litres of cooking oli every day to be carbon - neutral.
    Reply
  • jellico
    It's nice that they've come up with a better way to extract biofuel from used cooking oil. But that still doesn't address the root of the problem. The United States alone uses 20 MILLION BARRELS OF OIL PER DAY. Sorry for the caps, but people seem to have a real problem with scale. Researchers are getting excited about the possibility of producing a few million gallons of biofuel per year when we are consuming 840 million gallons PER DAY. Sorry, guys, but those extra zeroes make a big difference. That's why they're called orders of magnitude.

    The only way we're going to break our addiction to fossil fuels is if scientists come up with a REVOLUTIONARY new technology. A merely evolutionary technology just won't cut it. Our only other choice is to roll back the clock and party like it's 1799. Personally, I don't want to live an 18th century lifestyle. And I'm pretty certain countries like China and India aren't going to go for that either.
    Reply