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Ohio ‘dark grey powder’ the future of hydrogen cars?

It seems that the US Department of Energy (DoE) can’t get enough of giving away cash to clean tech projects. Stories about the largesse of the DoE seem to crop up with all the regularity of editorials about Princess Diana/binge drinking/house price crashes in the Daily Mail, rubbish BBC sitcoms or chewing gum on Greenbang’s bus seat.

So naturally Greenbang was very excited to see someone actually reporting on what they’ve done with all that cash. And that someone was Umit Ozkan, professor at Ohio State University, who’s conjured up a new catalyst that can help make ethanol into hydrogen faster and more cheaply than its alternatives.

The catalyst, which the University refers to, rather spookily, as ‘dark grey powder’ is made from cerium oxide – a bog standard material you get in ceramics – instead of the precious metals that are normally used in this sort of thing.

The cost: precious metal catalyst – $9,000 an ounce. Grey powder catalyst – $9 a kilo.

And just because it’s cheap doesn’t mean it’s lower quality, oh no – it can get hydrogen out of ethanol with 90 percent efficiency.

The end result? According to Ozkan, it’s a big old boost for the hydrogen cars out there.

She reckons:

“There are many practical issues that need to be resolved before we can use hydrogen as fuel — how to make it, how to transport it, how to create the infrastructure for people to fill their cars with it.

Our research lends itself to what’s called a ‘distributed production’ strategy. Instead of making hydrogen from biofuel at a centralized facility and transporting it to gas stations, we could use our catalyst inside reactors that are actually located at the gas stations. So we wouldn’t have to transport or store the hydrogen — we could store the biofuel, and make hydrogen on the spot.”


  • Brad
    Posted March 9, 2010 at 10:47 pm

    Arghh. This reminds me of an incident that involved my brother in law. He was talking to a guy that was spouting the myth of the 350MPG car. My brother in law correctly pointed out that this was a myth, etc. The other guy got so angry, he said “I have seen the car”. He was so emotionally invested in the argument that he lied to promote it.

    Let’s keep that in mind when reading some of these posts.

    By the way, the laws of thermodynamics still hold. The device that uses electricity from the alternator to perform electrolysis upon water — to separate the hydrogen from the oxygen to be fed back into the car for combustion — will reduce your mileage ever so slightly. Obviously. There’s no such thing as a free lunch.

  • hillary
    Posted August 22, 2008 at 4:25 pm

    Opps, forgot this linky, sorry.

  • hillary
    Posted August 22, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    Well james jones!

    Then why is it that the dozens of people I know are using them, and getting excellent results, some even doubling their MPG? Somebody is lying. Gee, who could that be? @ there is a ton of information about this available for anybody to purchase in the free world.

    You can fool some of the people all of the time. You can fool all of the people some of the time. But you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.

    The oil companies have over-grossly polluted and profited for long enough because the public did not know about this simple technology. Now that it’s spreading like like a wildfire, even they are now using this simple technology at gas stations to make their own hydrogen, to store and dispense at the new hydrogen pumps at gas stations, for the new hydrogen cars being released in the 2010 model year.

    Since it’s obviously a scam in your opinion, then you’d better go tell Shell Oil that their newly installed systems in their gas stations won’t work!

  • james jones
    Posted August 22, 2008 at 12:04 am

    If your referring to hydrogen boosting, ie using electricity from the engine to produce hydrogen and oxygen then feeding that back to the engine: That’s a scam..

    Simple fraud.

    Popular mechanics just released the results of their tests, and it doesn’t increase mileage.

    Consumer affairs has an article:

    These things defy the 2nd law of thermodynamics and the simple test of reason. If they worked then some major car company, somewhere would be putting them on next years model.

    This stuff is like the herbal cancer cures, ultimately they say that everyone who disagrees with them is working for the oil companies..

    There’s a ton of money to be made and there’s a fool born every minute..

    My local paper ran a full page add today on “Cyclone Fans” for the engine, “spins” the air before it hits the air filter.

    I’m sure they sell a bunch of them, but they’re also garbage.

  • hillary
    Posted August 21, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    That’s fine, but the safest way is of course hydrogen-on-demand systems in vehicles, where the hydrogen is safely stored as water. This doesn’t give the oil companies the income they so badly want, when everybody can just add water to their on-board systems. And these systems are very plentiful in the marketplace already, constantly undergoing refinement and R & D. That’s why the oil companies are now getting into the hydrogen business, making gigantic hydrogen-on-demand systems at gas stations, where they just add water. Then they just sell it to motorists at those gas stations, and let the motorists take the risks of carrying around super-pressurized hydrogen tanks!

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