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dAlH2Orean aluminum powered R/C car - Click above to watch video after the jump

If you're having a hard time pronouncing this new R/C car's name, think Back to the Future. A two-man professor and student team created the dAlH2Orean, pronounced, yes, "delorean," as an homage to the classic film. According to the creators, professor Xavier Salueña and student Aleix Llovet, this is the first R/C car to run on aluminum soda can rings and sodium hydroxide. It's not a Mr. Fusion, but it is one step closer than we had before.

How does it work? When combined with water, aluminum reacts with sodium hydroxide and gives off hydrogen. The hydrogen then passes through a vinegar filter which removes traces of hydroxides. A second filter containing silica gel removes moisture from the hydrogen which then goes into a fuel-cell stack to generate electricity. This electricity is then used to power a small electric motor.

The dAlH2Orean has a top speed of 30km/h (18.6mph) and can run for a very respectable 40 minutes on one tank. This R/C car is only part of a larger project dubbed 'Alumini' where the creators hope to build a 5-60 hp microcar using this technology. We highly recommend you check out the video of this R/C car in action after the break.

[Source: dAlH2Orean | Image: dAlH2Orean]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 21 Comments
      Dave
      • 1 Month Ago
      I don't really see an aluminum/water/sodium hydroxide fueling infrastructure developing anytime soon.
        Chris M
        • 1 Month Ago
        @Dave
        This is one of those interesting tour-de-force demos with no practical use. It really doesn't scale up very well.
      • 1 Month Ago
      Aluminum is sometimes referred to a battery because it takes such a large amount of electricity to produce. It is among the most abundant metal on earth, but yet costs quite a bit because of the energy it takes to make.
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 1 Month Ago
      they could make a battery powered version too as see which is more practical, more powerful, cheaper and easier to make..
        Neevers1
        • 1 Month Ago
        @Dan Frederiksen
        Or they could just make a gas car, and see which is more practical, more powerful, cheaper and easier to make.
          • 1 Month Ago
          @Neevers1
          And then you rely on a limited resource whose price is variable and subject to the whims of those who produce it. Not tired of $4.00 a gallon gas?
      • 1 Month Ago
      I am also curious of what's left over after the reaction. I assume its a base. However the reaction must fully complete before base elements are left over.
      savagemike
      • 1 Month Ago
      Thinking back on all my interactions with RC cars, I am not sure of the idea of putting a vial of acid anywhere on it.
        letstakeawalk
        • 1 Month Ago
        @savagemike
        You're scared of vinegar?
        Chris M
        • 1 Month Ago
        @savagemike
        Not acid, it's sodium hydroxide, also known as caustic lye. Still rather corrosive and dangerous, though.
      JakeY
      • 1 Month Ago
      I said it on Engadget before, but it bears repeating. You are much better off taking that aluminum and recycling it and using a RC car with a battery and electricity instead. Essentially here you are using the energy put into aluminum during production using electrolysis of aluminum oxide (alumina). There are many losses in this chain: 1) The electrolysis isn't 100% efficient, so you throw away energy there. 2) Producing hydrogen from aluminum + sodium hydroxide -> aluminum oxide will mean additional losses. 3) Fuel cells are at most 60% efficient, usually around 50% instead, which means more losses to heat. This means you are just throwing energy away compared to using a battery (~80% charge/discharge efficiency), which would have directly used electricity instead of going through this convoluted and inefficient process. It's much better to just recycle the aluminum (which would just be remelted), rather than converting it to alumina and then the plants having to once again use electrolysis (using significantly more electricity than you got out of it from this RC car) to convert it back to aluminum.
        Chris M
        • 1 Month Ago
        @JakeY
        They'd also be better off using an aluminum battery, even if it was non-rechargeable and had to be recycled after one use, as the overall efficiency would be higher and the cost would be much lower.
        • 1 Month Ago
        @JakeY
        First off you have to remember that 50% of all the electricity generated every day does not even make it as far as a light bulb - or anything else for that matter so if you're talking about charging batteries from the grid you have to start at 50% efficiency and work down from there.
          Chris M
          • 1 Month Ago
          Basically, you're talking about the overall efficiency, including the energy lost in the power plant. The distribution grid itself is highly efficient, with an average efficiency around 97% But it doesn't really matter, as aluminum production relies on electricity, so the same energy losses apply to both aluminum production and battery charging. But this system also has energy losses from lye production, hydrogen production and the fuel cell, so overall efficiency is much less.
      Rajev Naik
      • 1 Month Ago
      (CONSTANT TORQUE RECEPROCATING IC ENGINE) In all IC engines built so far, the reciprocating motion of the connecting rod is converted in to rotary motion for wheel through crankshaft. This was most appropriate technology when the engine was invented. However, with continuously rising fuel prices around the world, many attempts are being made for improving engine efficiency. I have studied existing technology in detail & have found out following disadvantages with existing system. DISADVANTAGES IN EXISTING SYSTEM 1. The torque generated is always in a sine wave form. 2. Although, fuel combustion exerts tremendous force on piston from TDC to BDC (can be considered constant for any particular power stroke); all of it is never converted in to desired torque. When piston is near TDC or BDC, the force is wasted in compressing / stretching crankshaft radial arms towards / away from crankshaft bearings. Due to this repetitive cyclic force, crankcase is required to be designed adequately strong & robust for bearing non converted force from Pistons. 3. Due to sine wave nature of torque conversion, maximum torque is available ONLY AT CRANKSHAFT ROTATION AT MULTIPLES OF 90 deg. For all other times, the torque available is LESS THAN MAXIMUM POSSIBLE. 4. For a 4 cylinder engine with cranks placed at 90 deg apart & firing order 1,3,2,4; cylinder 1 (say) has power stroke from 0 deg to 180 deg of crankshaft rotation; then other cylinders will fire as under • Cylinder 1: 0 deg to 180 deg. • Cylinder 3: 180 deg to 360 deg. • Cylinder 2: 270 deg to 450 deg. • Cylinder 4: 450 deg to 630 deg. For cylinder 1, next power stroke starts at 720 deg only & hence it can be seen that from 630 deg to 720 deg, there is no power available in any of the cylinders. Engine has to cross this zone only by means of inertia of the over all system. Considering all these disadvantages, I have developed a new concept in IC Engine, which WILL NOT HAVE ANY OF ABOVE DISADVANTAGES. I have named it TEJJ IC ENGINE having following advantages: ADVANTAGES OF TEJJ IC ENGINE 1. This Engine WILL PRODUCE CONSTANT TORQUE OVER ALL POSITIONS OF CRANKSHAFT ROTATION. Torque wave will be a rectangular one. 2. The torque will be comparable to that of ELECTRIC MOTOR. 3. As no force from piston will be wasted in exerting undue force on crankshaft bearings, crankcase design can be made relatively lighter. 4. Torque available will be EQUAL TO MAXIMUM POSSIBLE TORQUE of existing sine wave torque at 90 deg multiples. 5. This engine can be easily made in existing plants since It is only addition / modification of components & rearrangement of existing engine using ALREADY PROVEN COMPONENTS ELSE WHERE. 6. No new technology yet to be tasted is used for this invention. 7. Work done PER POWER STROKE of ENGINE WILL BE ALMOST 55% HIGHER THAN THAT IN AN EXISTING SINE WAVE IC ENGINE. 8. This will lead to TREMENDOUS INCREASE OF ENGINE EFFICIENCY / MILAGE FROM VEHICLE. 9. This Engine can be used for all IC engine applications as at present. 10. Due to lower forces involved vibrations & sound from engine will be minimised. Above information along with graphical comparison of torque waves is available at http://www.scribd.com/doc/49011286/TEJJ-IC-ENGINE-Constant-Torque-IC-Engine.
      • 1 Month Ago
      Eh, what's the point? While aluminum is readily available, it takes a ton of electricity to create, as does the acid. All for a potentially explosive (hydrogen) fuel source, along with the dangers of caustic acid. I'll stick with gasoline, and its current infrastructure.
      • 1 Month Ago
      What a stupid darn comment system! It is agony getting it working in Firefox!
      Arun Murali
      • 1 Month Ago
      Cool for an RC project. Though it needs a bit of strengtheners. If they make 60 hp car with this, it will literally eat itself to drive.
      • 1 Month Ago
      Cool little thing :)
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