Figuring out better ways to fuel vehicles inevitably leads to a slew of challenges. These include energy density, distribution, storage, production cost, and end-consumer cost, to name just a few. Motorrad Days 2021 was originally scheduled to take place in July. Unfortunately for BMW fans, the event is simply not meant to be in 2021. As you might guess, the reason for 2021’s cancellation is the same as in 2020: the global coronavirus pandemic simply poses too much of a threat. AMERiders has the information on both the PowerPaste and Motorrad Days cancelation again for 2021.
Better fueling through chemistry.
Figuring out better ways to fuel vehicles inevitably leads to a slew of challenges. These include energy density, distribution, storage, production cost, and end-consumer cost, to name just a few. What is practical and possible also varies widely based on the type of vehicle involved. While hydrogen fuel cells can work in passenger automobiles, for example, they’re hugely impractical for use in motorcycles and scooters.
Enter the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials IFAM. Based in Dresden, Germany, the Institute recently announced a new product called PowerPaste. In photos, it looks a bit like a smooth spackle, or even squeezing certain acrylic paints out of tubes. That’s not a bad mental image to have, considering how Fraunhofer envisions distribution, but we’ll get to that after you know a little more about this fuel paste.
To create PowerPaste, Fraunhofer says it takes magnesium powder, then mixes it with hydrogen to form magnesium hydride. A couple of stabilizers later, mix, mix, mix, and it’s the paste you now see before you. Fraunhofer says that this paste can be packed into a neat little cartridge, then squeezed out via a plunger as needed—not unlike a small caulk gun.
From there, the PowerPaste mixes with the water you’re keeping in a separate tank to create hydrogen gas, a process which can be adjusted to fit the specific needs of your fuel cell. Now, for the really elegant part: Water, if you’re recall, contains hydrogen. Part of the reason that the PowerPaste method is so energy dense is because it gets half its hydrogen from that water.
What about safety? PowerPaste can be stored quite safely at room temperature, and stays just fine even at high temperatures. In fact, Fraunhofer says it stays stable until it hits 250 degrees Celsius, which is 482 degrees Fahrenheit. That means parking your PowerPaste-using bike on a sunny summer day shouldn’t pose any particular fuel-related safety concerns.
Fraunhofer’s announcement goes on to address other pain points as well, such as infrastructure and distribution. If it’s packed and sold in cartridges, they’re portable, storable, and could easily be sold in shops. Grab your road snacks, some PowerPaste, and some more water and you’re good to go. Larger vehicles could simply pump the goop directly into their tanks, much like thick, gray, gasoline. Fraunhofer plans to start making up to four tons of PowerPaste per year in its own facility by the end of 2021, as a pilot program for additional study.
Could a convenient, fossil fuel-free solution really be that simple? Not so fast. There are a number of additional questions and/or hurdles standing between us and a PowerPaste-powered future.
For one, what happens to those empty cartridges after they’re spent? Backtracking a bit, how clean and energy-efficient is this paste to produce in the first place? Also, as Loz Blain at New Atlas asked, what happens to the magnesium after you combine the PowerPaste with water?
Finally, while most people are probably used to new technologies costing a bit more on the introduction and then decreasing in price over time, will end-user costs be reasonable? It looks promising, but we’ll have to wait and see how it develops.
From Motorrad to Motorsad
Back in September 2020, BMW Motorrad announced that after 18 years near the factory in Munich, it was moving its 2021 BMW Motorrad Days festival to Berlin. That’s a major change and one that BMW was excited to make, especially since it would mark the 20th anniversary of Motorrad Days.
Unfortunately for BMW fans, the event is simply not meant to be in 2021. BMW ended up cancelling Motorrad Days in 2020 due to the ongoing pandemic, and as of February 25, the 2021 Berlin event is canceled as well. As you might guess, the reason for 2021’s cancellation is the same as in 2020: the global coronavirus pandemic simply poses too much of a threat. Considering that around 40,000 people attended the previous Motorrad Days event, their math seems pretty sound.
Motorrad Days 2021 was originally scheduled to take place in July. So, BMW Motorrad said it wanted to make this announcement as soon as possible since it knows that enthusiasts travel from all over the globe to be part of Motorrad Days. This way, it figured, people would have plenty of time to change their plans, instead of having to do so in a rush.
For the moment, BMW plans to hold BMW Motorrad Days again in July 2022. In past years, the festival has held all the sights, sounds, and spectacles you’d expect from a big, outdoor moto festival. The fest is packed with rides, stunt shows, bikes, accessories suppliers, bike clubs, and of course, beer tents—after all, it is Germany.
Now that we’re a year into the global pandemic, this information may not make anyone happy, but it no longer comes as any type of surprise. As vaccinations roll out, we have a cautious glimmer of hope that Motorrad Days and other 2022 events will return, better and more welcome than ever, for rider communities all over the world.
~And as always…
~Live Free Ride Hard~
Let AMERiders keep you up to date with information on Hydrogen Fuel or PowerPaste & Motorrad Days canceled again for 2021
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