Gasoline? Diesel? Hydrogen? Nope. This bus is powered by formic acid

formic acid bus 13422210 849494875155923 701627074561421090 o
Renewable energy is all the rage on the road these days, with an increasing number of companies turning to electric or hybrid vehicles as their ticket to the future. But even the most advanced of these automakers ought to be impressed by a new innovation from a student team at Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands. It’s being heralded as “the world’s first system that allows a bus to drive on formic acid.” The system, built entirely by Team FAST at the university, comprises an electric bus attached to a small trailer that converts formic acid into electricity.

So why use formic acid? As per researchers at Eindhoven, the compound is sustainable, carbon neutral, safe, and liquid. The acid occurs naturally in stinging nettles and in some ants, but is also easily manufactured at the industrial level, where it is most often used to preserve livestock feed. The students at Eindhoven have employed a blend of 99 percent formic acid and a performance enhancing agent to create a fuel called Hydrozine, which purports to have four times the energy density as a battery. And it is this fuel that ultimately powers the bus.

After initially presenting a model of the bus at the beginning of last year, Team FAST has now created a system that is a whopping 42,000 stronger than originally planned, and able to produce 25kW of power. The key to the bus’ power actually lies in the trailer, which splits Hydrozine into hydrogen and carbon dioxide. The trailer behaves as a sort of range extender (which is why it’s been dubbed REX for short), allowing the bus to travel greater distances than it would be able to on its own. Currently, the team is completing final tests, and the formic acid-powered bus is expected to be operational by the end of 2017.

The bus is slated to be unveiled on Thursday, July 6, at which time the team is also expected to “look ahead to what these results will mean for the future.” Also anticipated in the grand debut is the first Hydrozine filling station.

The mission of Team FAST is both admirable and ambitious,” said Eindhoven University. “Together with partners from the whole production chain, Team FAST is making Hydrozine a safe, sustainable and standard energy carrier for the future.”

Gaming

Wings on the bus: ‘Fortnite’ Battle Bus now sends you to your death even faster

A new update for Fortnite: Battle Royale has made the starting Battle Bus significantly faster, meaning you can get killed by a better player even faster than you could up until now.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'The Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘The Good Place’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Cars

Porsche upgrades German factory to build Taycan electric cars

A Porsche factory that currently builds the automaker's popular sports cars will soon begin churning out Taycan electric cars. In preparation, Porsche is upgrading the factory to be high tech and low emissions.
Emerging Tech

Here are the best (and least likely to explode) hoverboards you can buy

With widespread reports of cheap, knock-off Chinese hoverboards exploding, these self-balancing scooters may be getting a rough reputation. They're not all bad, though. Ride in style with our picks for the best -- and safest -- hoverboards
Emerging Tech

Ekster 3.0 lets you ask, ‘Alexa, where did I leave my wallet?’

Ekster's newest smart wallet is its best yet. It's slimmer than ever, boasts a neat card-dispensing mechanism, and will even let you know where it is, thanks to smart speaker integration.
Emerging Tech

Johns Hopkins’ lab-grown human retina could lead to big insights

Scientists from Johns Hopkins University have successfully grown human retina tissue from scratch in a lab. The work could help with the development of new therapeutics related to eye diseases.
Emerging Tech

Light-swallowing room promises Call of Duty fans the blackest of ops

What's it like to be in a room fully painted with the world's darkest material, Vantablack? The makers of one of the year's top video games teamed up with Vantablack scientists to find out.
Wearables

Skydio’s self-flying drone now has an Apple Watch app for flight prep

Skydio's clever R1 autonomous drone now has its own Apple Watch app, making flight preparations simpler than ever. The $2,000 flying machine is now also selling at its first retail outlet — Apple Stores in North America.
Emerging Tech

Are e-cigarettes safe? Here’s what the most recent science says

Ecigarettes are widely regarded and advertised as a healthier alternative to cigarettes for people who are trying to kick the smoking habit. How safe are these cigarette alternatives? We went deep into the recent scientific literature to…
Emerging Tech

Scientists created a condom that self-lubricates during sex. You’re welcome

Researchers from Boston University have invented a special coating for condoms which make them respond to bodily fluids by becoming more slippery. Here's how their new breakthrough works.
Emerging Tech

You’re so vein: Palm-based biometric system could help confirm your identity

Move over, Face ID! The next biometric security systems could rely on analyzing the unique vein patterns in your palm print. Here are some of the ways the technology could prove useful.
Emerging Tech

For only $4,950, you can get jetpack lessons from the world’s only instructor

Have you ever dreamed of flying using a jetpack? JetPack Aviation founder -- and the world's only qualified jetpack teacher -- David Mayman is now offering a day of flight instruction.
Emerging Tech

Biologists have found a hormone that could make space farming possible

Researchers have shown how space farming may be possible. By encouraging plants to excrete a certain hormone, they’ve demonstrated that crops can thrive despite challenging conditions, such as low-nutrient soil and microgravity.
Emerging Tech

Keep your holiday gift list high tech and under budget with these gadgets

Modern technology doesn't always come cheap, but there plenty of premium devices that don't carry a premium price. Whether you're looking for a streaming device or a means of capturing photos from above, our list of the best tech under $50…