Get your hydrogen…from chicken?

Scientists at the University of Delaware say they have developed a new hydrogen storage method that can hold vast amounts of hydrogen at a far lower cost than other hydrogen storage systems under consideration.

The researchers used chicken feather fibers, which they said are mostly composed of keratin, a natural protein that forms strong, hollow tubes. When heated, the protein strengthen its structure and becomes more porous, increasing its surface area. The net result is carbonized chicken feather fibers, which can absorb as much or perhaps more hydrogen than carbon nanotubes or metal hydrides, two other materials being studied for their hydrogen storage potential.

“Carbonized 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,” says Richard P. Wool, professor of chemical engineering and director of the University’s Affordable Composites from Renewable Resources (ACRES) program.

Carbonized chicken feathers, according to Wool, would only add about $200 to the price of a car. By comparison, 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 estimates that it would take a 75-gallon tank to go 300 miles in a car using carbonized chicken feather fibers to store hydrogen.

Biomethane and fertilizer from chicken poop, hydrogen from chicken feathers….plus a delicious fried chicken meal…I might have to start my own chicken farm soon!

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2 Responses to Get your hydrogen…from chicken?

  1. Tom nicolay 30 June, 2009 at 9:48 am #

    Well, Doris, I think you’ve really got the scoop on this one. Thanks.

    Do you by chance know what Honda will use for its fuel storage tank when it comes out with a Hydrogen car for the California market? Is it similar to what is used for other compressed gases?

    Of course, the 100 billion dollar question is: how will the United States reform hydrogen for hydrogen powered cars economically? And in enough quantities to foster a wholesale transition to hydrogen fueled vehicles?

    Some say high temperature nuclear energy facilities, the kind being looked at by the Idaho National Laboratory, and Toshiba/Westinghouse, is the way of the future.

    In theory, it’s the perfect answer to the so-called carbon conundrum. The technology already exists for the most part. But the investment cost to build new piplines, fueling stations and modern nuclear facilities is masssive.

    If the USA wants to REALLY kick the gasoline habit, it’ll take a true, nationally coordinated program.

  2. Doris 2 July, 2009 at 10:51 am #

    Tough questions Tom. And those are the ones floating around whether we can afford to build a massive fueling/charging systems for electric/hydrogen vehicles of the future. We have to get power, energy and oil companies on board for these kind of infrastructure because they have the experience to do these kind of projects.

    Unless of course, we can just entrust small shops around the corner to sell chicken feathers filled with hydrogen = )

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