New Fuel

I noted this on the Internet a little while ago and now the snail-media newspapers have caught up with it. You can find articles here at Popsci and gizmag:

UK-based Cella Energy has developed a synthetic fuel that could lead to US$1.50 per gallon gasoline. Apart from promising a future transportation fuel with a stable price regardless of oil prices, the fuel is hydrogen based and produces no carbon emissions when burned. The technology is based on complex hydrides, and has been developed over a four year top secret program at the prestigious Rutherford Appleton Laboratory near Oxford. Early indications are that the fuel can be used in existing internal combustion engined vehicles without engine modification.

Cella Energy have developed a method using a low-cost process called coaxial electrospinning or electrospraying that can trap a complex chemical hydride inside a nano-porous polymer that speeds up the kinetics of hydrogen desorption, reduces the temperature at which the desorption occurs and filters out many if not all of the damaging chemicals. It also protects the hydrides from oxygen and water, making it possible to handle it in air.

In the papers I’ve seen the price as 90 pence a gallon and 19 pence a litre. This all sound incredible, wonderful and just the sort of thing we need. And I have huge reservations. We’re told in the articles that present day car engines will not need to be modified, but go to the Cella website and we get, ‘it is possible to convert a conventional internal combustion engine (ICE) to run on hydrogen with minimal engine modifications’ which is not quite the same really. Fuel tanks and exhaust systems are not mentioned. I’m presuming that the micro-beads themselves are not burnt, that the hydrogen evaporates from them, so fuel tanks will have to be emptied as well as filled. Think of the infrastructure involved.
But for fuel of that price, surely we could set this in motion? Yeah, right, it’s going to be that price. Ho ho. Lest we forget, if we bought petrol at the pump without government taxes it would cost 47 pence a litre. If you go here you’ll see that not only do we pay 59 pence duty, the government then taxes us on the tax we pay on fuel, that is, VAT is charged on the actual fuel price + delivery charge + duty. Does anyone reading this think for one moment that our government would give up on such a lucrative way of screwing the population? Do you think for one moment it would give up on 20 billion in tax? If some cheap new fuel came in the government would just look upon it as a way of increasing its tax take. This basically defines the attitude of all governments to tax.

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