Students from Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands created the world’s first bus that runs on formic acid, which is a much cheaper solution than hydrogen, yet it delivers the same environmental benefits,” says Lucas van Cappellen from Team Fast, a spin-off company from Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands. Students are endeavoring to develop emissions-free transport that will help in the global battle against climate change. And they’re also trying to create careers for themselves. They developed a way of storing energy that could be cheaper to make, more practical and more sustainable than alternative renewable fuels. Formic acid is found in nature, delivered in the stings and bites of ants and other insects the Latin word for ant is formica. And this simple carboxylic acid (chemical formula HCOOH) is already used in textiles and leather processing, as a livestock feed preservative, and is also found in some household limescale removers. The students found a way the acid can efficiently carry the ingredients needed for hydrogen fuel cells, used to power electric vehicles. The fuel, which the team has dubbed hydrozine (not to be confused with hydrazine), is a liquid, which means you can transport it easily and refill vehicles quickly, as with conventional fuels. They claimed that the fuel is much cleaner and cheaper. To prove the concept in the real world, an electric bus is set to hit the road in the Netherlands later this year, where it will shuttle between running on conventional bus routes and appearing at promotional events and industry fairs. The bus has an electric drive system, developed by bus builder VDL, that receives additional power from the formic acid fuel cell system mounted in a range-extender trailer, towed behind. According to them if they prove that we can build a bus that meets the needs of bus companies, with a range of around 400km and quick refueling, we will have shown the potential of hydrozine in a segment where there is no sustainable competition yet.
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