Suppose that your near future hydrogen car could be filled with diesel fuel, reformed into H2 then run through a fuel cell? Now, suppose you can fill up your car with biodiesel fuel and do the same.
This is what the folks at Nordic Power Systems of Norway and SAFCell Incorporated of California are thinking, too. The tricky part is developing a smart diesel reformer and pairing it with a solid-acid fuel cell and this is what they have accomplished.
According to the Research Council of Norway, “The reformer converts hydrocarbons into hydrogen, CO2 and heat. Due to the unit’s high efficiency, CO2 emissions are substantially lower than in conventional combustion engines, and no other demonstrable exhaust is discharged – meaning that diesel particulates, black carbon soot, nitrous oxide (NOx) and carbon monoxide (CO) are eliminated. An added plus is that the reformer emits no smoke or odour.”
Now, this isn’t a zero emissions solution, but it is near zero and would get drivers in the habit of driving fuel cell vehicles before the hydrogen fueling station infrastructure is able to rollout to every molehill and hamlet across the U. S.
This would also get drivers used to fueling up with alternative fuels such as biodiesel and accepting that alternative fuels will be the mainstream fuel source in a few short years. The transition away from gassing up with foreign fossil fuels may not be a clear path for many people right now. But, if we offer multiple paths (such as diesel or biodiesel inside of fuel cell vehicles) then the transition will happen much more quickly.