Israeli company designs aluminum-powered car engine

Lightweight aluminum is a popular material in car manufacturing these days as automakers strive for unheard of levels of fuel efficiency.

But could it be used as a fuel itself?

That’s the idea being proposed by an Israeli company called Alchemy Research, according to

The startup says it has developed a reactor that that combines aluminum and water to create hydrogen, which is then used to generate electricity in a fuel cell or burned to create steam and run a turbine.

To do this, powdered aluminum is introduced into a pre-heated reactor where it is melted at a temperature of 900 degrees Celsius and reacts with steam to form aluminum oxide, a process that creates hydrogen and heat. The heat generated by the reaction then takes over powering the reactor, making it a self-sustaining system. The non-toxic aluminum oxide byproduct can be processed back into aluminum at a recycling facility to create new fuel.

The company says some of the advantages of its technology over rechargeable batteries are that it can piggyback off of the current aluminum manufacturing and distribution system to hasten the rollout of an infrastructure; cars running on aluminum can be refueled in less than five minutes; and just 15 gallons of the material can power a car nearly 1,500 miles per tank.

While the company has built an experimental prototype of the reactor to demonstrate the process, a vehicle powered by the technology is only a concept at this stage. At current U.S. prices, Alchemy Research calculates that the aluminum fuel would cost about 40 percent more than gasoline or electricity stored in a battery, but an increase in the price of gasoline would quickly tighten that spread.

If it works in the real world, you may not be the only thing getting a jolt from that can of Red Bull.

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