Building a bus that is able to fully drive on formic acid, that is the ambition of Team FAST. Team FAST is a new student team from Eindhoven university of Technology (TU/e). Formic acid could potentially serve as a storage method for renewable energy. Powering a bus with formic acid has more benefits than other sustainable alternatives. The team also launched their crowdfunding campaign to accelerate the development of this new technology.
By using formic acid, the students of Team FAST hope to bundle the strong points of hydrogen and battery powered vehicles, and exclude the weak points. Due to shortcomings of current sustainable technologies it is hard to make heavier transport (like busses and trucks) sustainable. Team FAST specifically focuses on this sector, because they believe that there is a lot to achieve concerning sustainability. “More often than not, battery powered busses’ range is limited and recharging takes a long time. Hydrogen solves these issues; however handling the volatile gas is difficult, resulting in expensive systems and high pressure tanks.”
Formic acid allows safely storing hydrogen into a liquid. Using a chemical reaction, formic acid can be split extremely fast into hydrogen and CO2 and back again. Because of this process, it can be used as a sustainable energy carrier. Due to its liquid properties, it is possible to transport formic acid safely, easy and cheap.
Due to formic acid’s liquid properties, usage as a consumer is no different than using gasoline. The current fuelling infrastructure is based on liquids and formic acid would be an ideal fit. As an energy carrier, its potential is greater than just a bus. Storing energy from wind or solar energy is possible, later to use it again. The process is explained in this animation video.
From itty-bitty model to giant city bus
In January 2016 Team FAST presented their first scale model prototype. This one-metre big car drove for the first time fully on formic acid and reached national and international publicity. Today Team FAST presented their progress:” Formic acid has a huge potential in the heavy transport sector, which is why Team FAST choses to power a city bus with formic acid.” Says Aerts, head of Team FAST. The bus is expected to drive by the end of 2016 on formic acid.
Next to presenting their future plans, Team FAST also launches a crowdfunding campaign. With this campaign, FAST wants to fund some of their research and development. Besides this, the campaign is also there to involve people in their project. “We believe that to get a more sustainable world you should not only develop sustainable technology, but also make people committed towards sustainability. Involving people in a project like this is a way to do exactly that. Team FAST is fully run by volunteers who are committed to this sustainable innovation.”