Taking aim at the clean-energy holy grail: Turning water into fuel

It’s not exactly alchemy, but something magical is taking place inside an 8-foot-tall steel box at a Bucks County industrial park: The humming SimpleFuel machine is converting water into clean hydrogen motor fuel. Since September, a consortium of three companies has operated the device at PDC Machines Inc., an industrial manufacturer near Warminster. The prototype uses electricity and water to produce high-purity hydrogen, which powers electric fuel-cell vehicles. Such vehicles, which produce only water-vapor emissions, are an elusive goal for clean-energy advocates. They can provide motorists with many of the conveniences of conventional gasoline vehicles, including long-range and quick refueling, that have been a challenge for plug-in electric vehicles. “The aim is zero emissions with zero compromise,” said Kareem Afzal, vice president of business development for PDC Machines, which manufactures the gas compressors that are a critical part of the SimpleFuel device. “You can travel roughly the same distance as a gasoline vehicle, and be able to refuel in three to five minutes.”


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