Sarah Parsons

Chicken Feathers May Fuel Hydrogen Cars in the Future

by , 06/25/09
filed under: Renewable Energy

cars fueled by chicken feathers, chicken feathers as fuel, senoz and wool, 13th annual green chemistry and engineering conference,Erman Şenöz and Richard P. Wool, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles

Chickens may start losing sleep over more than Americans’ love of McNuggets. Chicken consumption in the US creates over six billion pounds of feathers each year. Previously discarded as waste, researchers at the University of Delaware are developing an innovative way to put all that wasted plumage to use — as fuel to power hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. If this technology was implemented in a fuel cell vehicle, it would cost about $200, as opposed to using carbon nanotube tanks (which cost about $5.5 million) or metal hydrides (which cost about $30,000).

cars fueled by chicken feathers, chicken feathers as fuel, senoz and wool, 13th annual green chemistry and engineering conference,Erman Şenöz and Richard P. Wool, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles

Yesterday at 13th Annual Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference, a team of scientists announced that they developed a way to store hydrogen in carbonized chicken feathers. At present, the major hold-up with making cars powered by fuel cells, is that no one has come up with a way to inexpensively and effectively produce and store all that hydrogen. Researchers Erman Şenöz and Richard P. Wool found that when they heated up quill fibers to extremely high temperatures, carbon nanotubes with nanoporous walls formed, allowing the substances to absorb and store hydrogen.

While the development is certainly exciting, don’t expect to see cheap, hydrogen-powered vehicles rolling down the block anytime soon. The technology is nowhere near commercialization yet. Because of hydrogen’s extremely low density, cars using Şenöz and Wool’s system would need about a 75-gallon tank to go 300 miles, so researchers must first figure out how to optimize the technology. Still, cars equipped with high-tech gear that originated from mere chicken feathers is a seriously resourceful concept.

Via The Daily Green

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4 Comments

  1. permapoesis July 30, 2009 at 7:09 pm

    with global supplies of oil peaking we are now at the beginning of energy descent. this means industrialised oil-based factory farms will collapse as a system. this is great for animals, but not great for monological scientists who keep inventing psuedo-green technology that relies upon the continuation of brown tech industries. we have to design new settlements based on low-energy consumption. permaculture addresses all these things.

  2. harshioruganti June 30, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    We once deployed animals in transportation- they say the big huge stones for Stonehenge were carried by donkeys for thousands of miles before they were arranged… we know horse carts, we know pigeons, we know bullock carts, we know cows, buffaloes & we even in fact even trained pigeons for the early mail. We`ve always petted them- well, now we can use their feathers for fuel. “Well, we are going green… “, really?!?

    I was brought up being told ‘Eating meat is wrong’… After being convinced with various argumenets & investing effort in plant based protein research, I now agree that ‘chicken’ can be a good source of protein… The high chicken production has lead to it being readily available as low cost meat- and hence happens to be the most consumed meat in the world.

    BUT, what the hell, running cars with chicken feathers? My father would argue, ‘Couldn’t they invest the effort in inventing a better resource to drive cars?’. “Well, we are going green… “, really?!?

    “The Romans used chickens as oracles, both when flying and when feeding. The hen gave a favorable omen, when appearing from the left like the crow and the owl.” I just learnt about chickens on wikipedia- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicken !

    By and large -> let’s be honest. We like to consume meat- its easy & filling. Its readily available as staple diet in most of the world. We are still giving pain by brutal killing of these creatures. My fear is that we are setting a stage for the future, where killing is encouraged.

    The world today is set up on an ‘effectiveness’ stage – where we realised – anything effective sells. We want to utilize anything that’s readily available. By products are a great selling point. Well, yes – making fuel out of feathers may sell, but at least, please don’t call it green! I agree that its an amazing revolution – where every part of every animal that’s being rared is utilized – that can be called ‘effective’. We are being effective & not wasting anything. I don’t call that Green -> we are just being selfish and effective – its in no way friendly to the environment. The definition of green is not just making effective use of by-products- its also being environment-friendly.

    The research has been presented at – “13th Annual Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference” I revolt – I cannot see this as being “Green”.

    Animals are smart and sensitive. They are beautiful. They are life. With all this research, we may be setting up the stage for a future – where killing is encouraged – leading to more meat consumption & more brutal killing. yes – it may also be the same with plants – I don’t say no. My only vote is that – ‘we leave as minimal carbon footprint in the universe as possible’. When we think Carbon foot-print – we never think food consumption -this may be one of the most important factors. Please think before you leap.

  3. Laura3 June 30, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    This does not seem very encouraging to me for the following reasons.

    “…no one has come up with a way to inexpensively and effectively produce and store all that hydrogen.” And they probably never will. There is always some ‘if only we could figure out how to’ glitch to solutions like hydrogen power.

    “… when they heated up quill fibers to extremely high temperatures, carbon nanotubes with nanoporous walls formed…” Where does the energy come from to heat things to “extremely high temperatures”. Coal? Gas? Oil?
    Seems counter productive to me.

    “researchers must first figure out how to optimize the technology” Translation: It doesn’t work. We are trying to figure out how in the heck we can make it actually, you know… work.

  4. barbeerian June 30, 2009 at 1:53 pm

    Terribly misleading title and article. The feathers are used as a storage medium for the hydrogen. When carbonized, they have fractal properties that allow the hydrogen to be pushed into them at relatively low pressure.

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