The idea of a car that a run entirely on water is, although appealing, the stuff of pseudoscience. However, in a bid to find cost-effective, emission-free alternative to burning fossil fuels, one startup believes that water-based fuel could be a key component in powering the electric vehicles of the future.

Australian-Israeli startup Electriq~Global has found a way to use water to power electric vehicles. Launching at EcoMotion 2018’s Smart Mobility Summit taking place in Tel-Aviv today and tomorrow, the company claims its water-based fuel is “highly efficient, safe, clean, recyclable”.

It is worth noting that the technology does not run entirely on water. Splitting water into oxygen and hydrogen requires a lot of energy, meaning not only is impossible to extract chemical energy from water without an additional fuel source, it would require the same amount, if not more, energy than would be generated.

Instead, the company has developed a fuel made up of 60% water, from which Electriq’s technology extracts hydrogen, which is then harnessed to create electricity to power the vehicle.

This works by using three key elements: the water-based fuel (Electriq~Fuel) which reacts with a catalyst (Electriq~Switch) to release hydrogen on demand, then the spent fuel is captured and taken back to a plant where it is replenished with hydrogen and water for re-use (Electriq~Recycling).

Water-based fuel provides zero-emission alternative

The fuel offers an alternative to other zero-emission energy sources currently available. The company claims that its technology is cheaper and can run for longer than battery-powered vehicles, addressing the problem of having to frequently charge electric cars. The water-based liquid fuel is also safe and stable at ambient temperatures and pressures, making it safer than highly flammable hydrogen.

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By GlobalData

When compared to other green fuels, such as lithium-ion batteries or compressed hydrogen technologies, Electriq~Global’s fuel can power vehicles for double the distance at half the cost. A comparison of electric buses showed the buses powered by batteries provided a range of 250km and required up to 300 minutes to recharge, whereas buses to be powered by Electriq~Fuel will provide a range of 1,000km and could be refuelled in 5 minutes.

Furthermore, the energy density, the amount of energy stored in a system, is up to 15 times that of electric batteries currently in use in vehicles like those of Tesla.

Electriq~Global CEO Guy Michrowski said:

“Our technology brings dramatic news of improvement in driving range, refueling time, and cost of fuel and changes the rules of the game in many fields, including transportation and energy storage”.