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Hydrogen-like fuel is a solution to environmental problems in the construction industry

10-08-2020 17:18 | BY: MARC SEIJLHOUWER

DENS is working together with Urban Mobility Systems (UMS), a company that makes electric vehicles. For the construction industry they  already made an electric excavator and a “Knikmops”. DENS is the company that emerged from the student team Team FAST, which developed a technology to use formic acid as a sustainable fuel.

Hydrozine is a good alternative to diesel, according to DENS CEO Max Aerts. Unlike hydrogen, you can put this fuel in a simple plastic storage tank. “You have to keep hydrogen under pressure. This requires a compressor and special, more expensive storage tanks. Hydrozine is an attractive alternative”.

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The easiest  application are generators which DENS thinks can be succesfull.. The generator consists of a battery that supplies power to all kind of electrical building materials. When the battery is empty, the hydrozine system switches on: formic acid is converted into hydrogen, which enters a fuel cell and generates electricity.

Just as expensive as diesel

A hydrozine generator costs about the same as a diesel generator. “A grid connection is the cheapest option. But you often don’t have that possibility on a construction site, then this is an attractive, environmentally friendly option”, thinks Aerts. Exactly how environmentally friendly the formic acid is depends on how you make it. DENS now uses green gas, made from biomass. “We also want to ensure that it is environmentally friendly biomass, for example from sewage sludge”.

Other companies are working on a hydrozine electrolyzer plant.”For that technique, the company OCO is working on a pilot factory”. The production of hydrozine is less efficient than the production of hydrogen. “But it is cheaper and better in every step after production, because you can easily transport and store it”.

The studentteam Team FAST made a formic acid system for a bus. At first, the fuel was intended for sustainable mobility. Aerts:”But that was more of a demonstration of the technology. In the automotive industry we see that electric cars are on the rise. Perhaps formic acid can help in the long term for heavy transport: “DENS may also want to develop such a hydrozine system for construction machines, so that they no longer have to charge at the generator but can simply refuel.

A climate neutral airport

DENS can make the most impact in the short term during construction, Aerts thinks. But his company is also looking at other applications. “Although they are now stationary, festivals can make good use of the hydrozine generator and it can also be a good solution at airports to meet the climate objectives”. DENS will start field tests of the generating set before the end of this year. The company wants to start serial production from next year.

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