Researchers have developed a fire-safe fuel that burns only with electricity Science News

The breakthrough allows for safer fuel pumps. (Image credit: Adobe Firefly).

In the interest of preventing fires during transportation and storage of fuel, a team of researchers has developed a fuel that burns only when electricity is applied. In addition to liquid fuel, there are volatile fuel molecules suspended above the liquid that interact with oxygen and fire. While reducing the source of oxygen will kill the flame, it is difficult to do so outside of a controlled environment such as the interior of an engine.

The researchers have applied for a patent on the fuel, and described the process for making it Paper published In Journal of the American Chemical Society. First author of the article, Brithwish Biswas He says, “If you throw a match into a pool of gasoline on the ground, it’s a vapor of burning gas. You can smell that vapor and you know right away that it’s vaporized. If you can control the vapor, you can control whether the fuel burns.

A form of liquefied salt, similar to table salt, forms the ionic liquid that forms the basis of the new fuel. The salt used has a lower melting point than table salt. Chlorine in the ionic liquid is replaced with perchlorate. Through a series of experiments, scientists were able to prove that fuel only burns when electricity is applied, and stops burning when electricity is turned off. Increasing the voltage resulted in higher energy output and larger flames.

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The new fuel has the potential to make vehicles much safer with a kill switch, which can automatically shut off the engine if the driver or vehicle malfunctions in any way. In theory, the ionic liquid could be used in any type of vehicle, the fuel would need to be tested in different types of engines and performance determined before it could be commercialized.

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