When gasoline prices moved over $4 per gallon a couple of years back and diesel fuel was over $5 per gallon there was great interest in finding alternatives. One alternative that had been around for years was to recycle used vegetable oil from restaurants for use in diesel powered vehicles.
On of the main complaints about doing this was that the exhaust of such diesel powered vehicles smelled like French fries. Now, researchers at the University of Leeds, UK have a new use for this waste veggie oil and that is to make hydrogen out of it.
According to Bioscience Technology, “Dr. DuPont and colleagues have perfected a two-stage process that is essentially self-heating. To begin, the nickel catalyst is blasted with air to form nickel oxide – an ‘exothermic’ process that can raise the starting temperature of 650 degrees by another 200 degrees. The fuel and steam mixture then reacts with the hot nickel oxide to make hydrogen and carbon dioxide.
“The researchers also added a special ‘sorbent’ material to trap all the carbon dioxide produced, leaving them with pure hydrogen gas. This trick eliminated the greenhouse gas emissions and also forced the reaction to keep running, increasing the amount of hydrogen made.”
Of course this latest development won’t make diesel enthusiasts happy, especially the ones that get their used fast food restaurant grease for free. But, hydrogen is non-polluting and will not clog the atmosphere with the smell of French fries and that alone has to be worth something.