Friday, February 4, 2011

CLUCK asks: Can toasted chicken feathers slash $5 million off the cost of a hydrogen-powered car?

Hydrogen-powered cars are nearly as dreamy as the personal helicopters we were promised -- and far more sustainable. Imagine burning a fuel and having the only "exhaust" being water! The big problem at the moment is improving the technology for storing the hydrogen, and that's where chickens enter the picture.

According to research presented at the 13th Annual Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference, carbonized (toasted) "chicken feather fibers have the potential to dramatically improve upon existing methods of hydrogen storage and perhaps pave the way for the practical development of a truly hydrogen-based energy economy."

Image from Ecologic Media

The feathers are made of the protein keratin, which, when heated and carbonized, create a crosslinked structure that has a far greater surface area that, consequently, are believed to absorb as much (or more) hydrogen than pricey carbon nanotubes or metal hydrides.
Using carbonized chicken feathers would only add about $200 to the price of a car, according to Wool. By comparison, making a 20-gallon hydrogen fuel tank that uses carbon nanotubes could cost $5.5 million; one that uses metal hydrides could cost up to $30,000, Wool says.
Read the article here.

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