H2 Power Developing Solar-powered Hydrogen Maker

Device would be small enough to sit on roof of conventional petroleum filling station.

Published: 24-Sep-2009

Every major automaker is investing in development of ways to make cars move without petroleum or at least less of it. But there are also lots of smaller companies looking for breakthroughs that would allow us to keep driving without altering the climate and without propping up the world’s petrocracies.

One inventor working on the problem is Swedish engineer and entrepreneur Nils Kongmark, who with two physicist colleagues has designed a solar-powered device that extracts hydrogen and oxygen from superheated steam. The device would be small enough to fit on the roof of a gas station, producing hydrogen locally for cars powered by fuel cells. Carmakers including Daimler, Honda and Toyota still see hydrogen as ultimately the best way to replace oil.

The process developed by Kongmark’s Britain-based company, H2 Power Systems, sounds promising. Scientists have known how to separate the H2 from the O in water for a century. The problem is that existing methods use more energy to produce the hydrogen than the hydrogen gives back. There’s no net energy gain. Kongmark says that, with the help of materials not available until recently, he has solved this problem.

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