Friday, April 15, 2011

Recycled Aluminum and Water Is Main Fuel for Radio Controlled Toy Car

The radio control vehicle dAlh2Orean is part of the project called 'Aluminium', for the manufacturing of microcars with 5-60 hp using recycled aluminium as main fuel

The UPC-Barcelona Tech presents the first radio control car that runs with soda ring cans or aluminium waste

Aleix Llovet and Xavier Salueña, respectively student and professor at School of Industrial and Aeronautic Engineering of Terrassa (UPC-Barcelona Tech), have patented the dAlH2Orean, the first radio control car that runs with aluminium soda ring cans, or residual parts of aluminium mixed with hydroxide of sodium dissolved in water. The propulsion system is clean, it closes the cycle of aluminium and does not generate any CO2 emissions. The car, which reaches 30km/h, is the result of the final project of Alex Llovet, led by Professor Xavier Salueña.

From left to right, Aleix Llovet and Xavier Salueña
Credit: Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya

In a scene from the movie 'Back to the Future', the mad professor Emmet L. Brown (Doc) opens a trash bin and picks some waste and finally a soda can into the mythical Dalorean's Mc Fusions reactor. With this fuel, the car starts and the main characters can jump throughout the time and travel to the future. Aleix Llovet and Xavier Salueña, student and teacher of the School of Industrial and Aeronautic Engineering of Terrassa (UPC-Barcelona Tech), have managed to create a clean and safe technology to operate a radio controlled car, much like the Marty and Doc in science fiction. The car, named dAlh2Orean in memory of the vehicle of the movie, does not allow time travel, but you can get a top speed of 30km per hour with a range per charge of 40 minutes.

The first car that runs on aluminium waste
The dAlH2Orean, it's built by the student and the teacher of ETSEIAT and patented by the UPC-Barcelona Tech. Is the first radio control car powered by aluminium waste and water, using domestical sodium hydroxide as a catalyst. The whole operation is based on the self generation of hydrogen generated through the reaction of contact between aluminium and sodium hydroxide. This self generated hydrogen, feeds the fuel cell that produces the energy.

A vinegar filter
The residue of aluminium and sodium hydroxide dissolved in water are placed inside the tank car. The aluminium reacts with sodium hydroxide and generates hydrogen, which is filtered through a vinegar filter with water to remove traces of hydroxides. The hydrogen passes to another filter containing silica gel ball where it loses moisture to enhance its performance. Finally, hydrogen reaches the stack generating electricity through a membrane that separates electrons from the protons until they meet again in an environment of oxygen, producing water, and energy that powers the engine.

A eco system
This system is absolutely clean, it does not generates CO2 emissions and closes the cycle of aluminium, reducing pollution caused by its extraction, the use of aluminium is because it is a residual and when enters in contact with sodium hydroxide produces hydrogen and aluminium hydroxide and sodium hydroxide, which can be reused. The aluminium hydroxide can be converted in alumina throughout a calcination process. With the alumina, aluminium can be obtained, in this case is more pure than the aluminium is currently recycled, and the same purity which is extracted from opencast mines bauxite, which is very dangerous for the environment. Moreover, the only residue that occurs within the filter vinegar, which react with traces of sodium hydroxide, is salt water is the same type that gives flavour to the bag of crisps (sodium acetate).

Radio control cars much cheaper
We are therefore faced with a completely innovative propulsion system that moment, their inventors apply to radio control cars and significantly beats current prices. At present, a radio control car powered by fuel cell with hydrogen canisters cost is around € 2,400. In addition, the user should buy an electrolyser, which costs € 1,500. With this new system Llovet and Salueña have estimated that all the pack could have a final cost around 800 € and does not need to buy a electrolyser

Educational Applications
Another application of the dAlh2Orean have thought that could be oriented for education sector. The car is an object and a perfect example to explain how the fuel cell works, or, closing the cycle of materials and fuels in order to manufacture vehicles fully sustainable and friendly environment.

'Aluminium': a project to produce 5 hp and microcar cars 60CV
Xavier Salueña directs the project 'Aluminium', where part of the patent dAlh2Orean. Jose Antonio Ortiz collaborates with this project, a researcher at the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the UPC-Barcelona Tech Campus Terrassa and technical department of the same Juan Martinez. Josep Maria Dagà, Department of Chemical Engineering. 'Aluminium' attempts to move a large scale this innovative propulsion system for moving cars and microcar.

According to his calculations, to move a vehicle about 5 hp for an hour would take about 3 kg of aluminium and about 30kg for a 60CV engine, slightly more than the equivalent amount in the same weight in the car powered by gasoline. The problem to be solved would be design a easy way to refuel. For now, the two inventors are in contact with several companies to study the feasibility of the project.

Source: Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya

2 comments:

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