Even though hydrogen fuel tanks holding compressed H2 gas have been proven to be safe, still critics cite safety as one of the top reasons not to buy a fuel cell vehicle. So, in steps UK researchers from the universities of Oxford, Cambridge and Cardiff plus Saudi Arabia who have created a hydrocarbon wax that can release a large amount of hydrogen with the help of microwaves.
The idea is to carry this hydrocarbon wax onboard the fuel cell car and release the hydrogen on demand as needed by the vehicle.
According to Oxford’s Dr Tiancun Xiao, “Our discovery – that hydrogen can be easily and instantly extracted from wax, a benign material that can be manufactured from sustainable processes – is a major step forward. Wax will not catch fire or contaminate the environment. It is also safe for drivers and passengers.”
Presumably carrying wax onboard the vehicle will be lighter than a metal hydride tank and will quiet the critics who squawk about comparisons to the Hindenburg.
Now, (and this may be none of my beeswax) there is one important aspect of this research which wasn’t mentioned and that is how to refuel / replenish this hydrocarbon wax once the hydrogen has been depleted. What would a fueling pump look like if this were to be implemented?
Anyway, this is exciting new research, which has a decent chance in making it as a “better mousetrap” in the emerging commercial world of hydrogen storage.