Isn’t it wonderful, an Israeli invention that has cars drive on water or hydrogen? Water is just water and Hydrogen is the most abundant chemical substance in the Universe. Too good to be true? It is.
The Dutch translation of ‘not being able to believe one’s eyes’ is literally: ‘to look as if one sees water burn.’ You can’t burn water.
Still, a year ago, we read that an Israeli invention exactly accomplished that. And zero emissions. And the fluid is not toxic and not inflammable. That is strange since burning implies fuel that burns. Let’s check it out.
The puzzle is not so hard to solve. They reveal that this power supply: ‘contains three key elements: the water, a chemical called BH4 or Tetrahydrobiopterin, and a metal layer – a “catalyzer” [sic] developed by the company – that triggers the production of hydrogen from the mix.’
Water we all know.
BH4 is not just a chemical, it’s a biochemical. This is one of the beautiful complicated biochemicals the animal body makes that can transform into a closely related molecule, which costs energy. And then, when the body needs energy, it reverses the chemical process, winning back some of that energy. Then the process can be redone, recycling these energy carriers. We really can recharge our batteries.
A catalyst makes a (bio)chemical reaction work more efficiently. Per definition, it’s not used up in the chemical reaction it facilitates.
So, this invention is not an invention. It’s applying known biochemistry to fuel vehicles. The water is not the fuel but — just like in our bodies — the environment in which it all takes place and there is no burning. This is a battery. Many batteries create or absorb ions like hydrogen.
The zero-emissions claim is a bit beside the truth too. The battery must be loaded with power. That comes from our power stations. There the burning takes place and there the emissions go into the atmosphere.
This was a year ago. But now we have news. A pilot for ‘hydrogen-powered’ trucks will start soon. Israel is the ideal place for it. Is that because we are so naive? The exhaustion pipe will not come from the trucks but from the power stations. Is that progress? Not as much as advertised, that’s for sure.