Liquid Nitrogen May Expand to Zero-Emission Car Market

New developments in liquid nitrogen fueled engines may lead to a cheaper, better alternative to other zero-emission vehicles on the market.

What’s the Latest Development?


Liquid nitrogen, most likely remembered for its use in wacky science demonstrations, is being considered as an alternative zero-emission fuel source to hydrogen and electric fuel cells. One of the most obvious advantages to liquid nitrogen is how cheap it is: it “sells in America for a tenth of the price of milk.” A recent advance in engine technology allows the energy released by vaporizing the nitrogen to be used in a much more efficient way, which has spurred engineers in England into more research on liquid nitrogen technology.

What’s the Big Idea?

While hydrogen and electric powered cars are seen as zero emission alternatives to using fossil fuels, the cost of these “green” cars is still very high. “Unlike the industrial hydrogen used to make ammonia fertiliser, or for converting heavy oil fractions into petrol, the hydrogen needed for fuel cells must be 99.999% pure.” And electric cars’ batteries can account for a third of the cost of the car: at $500 to $600 per kilowatt-hour a Nissan Leaf’s 24 kilowatt-hour battery costs $13,200. This leaves liquid nitrogen engines in the unique position of being cheap to fuel yet little emphasis is being put on their use by major car manufacturers. As more research is put into liquid nitrogen engineering, car manufacturers may look towards nitrogen as the best “green” option for fueling vehicles of the future.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

Related Articles

Scientists discover what caused the worst mass extinction ever

How a cataclysm worse than what killed the dinosaurs destroyed 90 percent of all life on Earth.

Credit: Ron Miller
Surprising Science

While the demise of the dinosaurs gets more attention as far as mass extinctions go, an even more disastrous event called "the Great Dying” or the “End-Permian Extinction” happened on Earth prior to that. Now scientists discovered how this cataclysm, which took place about 250 million years ago, managed to kill off more than 90 percent of all life on the planet.

Keep reading Show less

Why we're so self-critical of ourselves after meeting someone new

A new study discovers the “liking gap” — the difference between how we view others we’re meeting for the first time, and the way we think they’re seeing us.

New acquaintances probably like you more than you think. (Photo by Simone Joyner/Getty Images)
Surprising Science

We tend to be defensive socially. When we meet new people, we’re often concerned with how we’re coming off. Our anxiety causes us to be so concerned with the impression we’re creating that we fail to notice that the same is true of the other person as well. A new study led by Erica J. Boothby, published on September 5 in Psychological Science, reveals how people tend to like us more in first encounters than we’d ever suspect.

Keep reading Show less

NASA launches ICESat-2 into orbit to track ice changes in Antarctica and Greenland

Using advanced laser technology, scientists at NASA will track global changes in ice with greater accuracy.

Firing three pairs of laser beams 10,000 times per second, the ICESat-2 satellite will measure how long it takes for faint reflections to bounce back from ground and sea ice, allowing scientists to measure the thickness, elevation and extent of global ice
popular

Leaving from Vandenberg Air Force base in California this coming Saturday, at 8:46 a.m. ET, the Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite-2 — or, the "ICESat-2" — is perched atop a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket, and when it assumes its orbit, it will study ice layers at Earth's poles, using its only payload, the Advance Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS).

Keep reading Show less