Pedego Electric Bikes and SiGNa Chemistry have developed a hydrogen fuel cell range extender for their line of electric bicycles.
According to the Pedego press release, “The announced battery-fuel cell hybrid system is compatible with all existing Pedego bicycles and batteries. For every 1.5 lbs. of weight a rider carries, an additional 700 watt-hours of energy is available (compared to ~350 watt-hours for an ultra-high performance lithium-polymer battery at a weight of 7 lbs.).
“The Pedego — SiGNa hybrid system utilizes the battery for peak conditions such as acceleration and hill climbing, while the fuel cell to extend the operating range of a Pedego bicycle by over 40 miles for each additional cartridge. Riders can carry additional cartridges which are real-time hot-swappable. A key innovation is the use of sodium silicide to liberate hydrogen from water as needed by the hybrid fuel cell. This process happens at a very low pressure of less than 30 psi (a soda can typically has 55 psi at room temperature).”
Because Sodium silicide (NaSi) is air and moisture sensitive and is considered to be pyrophoric, SiGNa Chemistry has opted for a more stable form of this substance to react with water to create hydrogen. According to SiGNa, “These stable forms are, respectively, the products of reacting crystalline silicon powder with sodium metal, or absorbing sodium into various oxide powders, such as amorphous silica gel, producing nanoparticles of NaSi within the pores.”
What this means essentially is a controlled release of NaSi with water to create hydrogen which is then runs through a fuel cell to create more power for the bicycle and increase the range dramatically.
Now, if this technology could also be scaled up for larger vehicles such as forklifts, cars, boats, etc. the idea of hot-swappable tanks may gain some traction especially for those who prefer low pressure solutions. These hot swappable tanks for use inside the vehicle could be sold in a variety of places like Wal-Mart of Home Depot.
In addition, these hot swappable tanks theoretically could be used outside the vehicle at fueling stations or in one’s garage providing a chemical plus water hydrogen solution that would give drivers many choices on how they wish to fuel up their vehicles.