Cella Energy claims breakthrough that would result in $1.50 per gallon gasoline alternative.

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Breakthrough promises $1.50 per gallon synthetic gasoline with no carbon emissions – Gizmag.com

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.

According to Stephen Voller CEO at Cella Energy, the technology was developed using advanced materials science, taking high energy materials and encapsulating them using a nanostructuring technique called coaxial electrospraying.

“We have developed new micro-beads that can be used in an existing gasoline or petrol vehicle to replace oil-based fuels,” said Voller. “Early indications are that the micro-beads can be used in existing vehicles without engine modification.”

“The materials are hydrogen-based, and so when used produce no carbon emissions at the point of use, in a similar way to electric vehicles”, said Voller.

This sounds like one of the many scams that litter the Internet promising to run your car on water or giving you ridiculous mileage and I am highly skeptical that the product will actually live up to the claims being made about it…

…but if what they’re claiming is true then saying it would be monumental is an understatement.

Given my natural skepticism I checked to see what some other sites are saying. The folks over at PopSci.com are also skeptical:

We’re going to go ahead and write this one because it’s all kinds of interesting, but know that we are doing so with all kinds of skepticism, fair readers. Because anytime anyone claims to have created inexpensive synthetic fuel that will burn in conventional automobile engines with no carbon emissions, you simply have to be on your guard. Nonetheless, UK-based Cella Energy claims to have done exactly that by devising a hydrogen-based synthetic fuel that could replace gasoline in cars.

The technology—reportedly incubated at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory near Oxford in a top secret four-year program—is based on complex hydrides that are highly unstable, usually degrading rapidly in air. Put simply, the company claims it has found a nanotech-driven method that encapsulates hydrogen at usable concentrations in micro-capsules, allowing it to be handled and burned in conventional engines without the need to store it in dangerous high-pressure tanks or super-cooled environments.

The article says the science makes sense if the process Cella is using actually does what they say it can do. Beyond PopSci, though, the few news items I found discussing it were largely just repeating the claims without analysis.

If this is real you can expect the Oil Industry to have an absolute shit fit over it. I’d like to be optimistic about it, but the cynic in me can’t help but think that even if it does work as well as claimed that there’ll be some wicked trade-off like it causes cancer in everything that comes in contact with it or something else equally horrible.

It just seems too good to be true and you know what they say about things like that.

5 thoughts on “Cella Energy claims breakthrough that would result in $1.50 per gallon gasoline alternative.

  1. If this is real and not another scam the question with the big energy companies will be who buys the rights to it first. Ultimately the goal of these guys is making money, so it doesn’t really matter if it’s from pumping oil out of the ground or not.

  2. That’s why I like your blog Les; every day I click my PopSci tab and then my SEB tab. Today they went hand in hand. It will be interesting to see if this ends up working!

  3. It goes without saying that if this does work, then most of the energy and environment crisis is solved IF it proves to be fuel efficient. Personally, I’m just as skeptic as you are, Les. Did some research into just what the hell a hydride is, and it’s apparently by way of Wikipedia:

    A hydride is the anion of hydrogen, H−, or a compound in which one or more hydrogen centers have nucleophilic, reducing, or basic properties. In compounds that are regarded as hydrides, hydrogen is bonded to a more electropositive element or group.

    So with the simplest understandings, this means that the beads consist of the most basic form of positively ionized hydrogen. I know technology is coming at us fast as we approach the singularity, though it’s safe to say it probably isn’t coming at us this fast.

  4. Jerry Brown will not be happy about this. His vision of California is a rural farming community with a few highly concentrated metro centers where everybody uses mass transit. His CARB (California Air Resources Board) is poised to regulate us into $7 a gallon gasoline so we will be forced into his vision. You know how politicians love to play god with us poor people. 😉

    Peace.

  5. There’s no free lunch, thermodynamically speaking; the energy has to come from somewhere. For example most commercially available hydrogen is a product of fossil fuels.

    That said, if the process can be powered by wind or solar, then what you have is a storage and distribution method for those energy sources. Well worth it.

    @Leguru, I hear you, but gas has been $7 a gallon in the real world for years. Only here in externality-denial-land is it $3. Trains are really good at two things: transportation efficiency (number of people through a corridor of a given width, per hour) and energy efficiency. What they’re lousy at is door-to-door connection. And cars are really lousy at the two things trains are really good at. As long as there are commutes, some kind of mixed system might be a good idea.

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