U.S. Water News Online
WASHINGTON -- A new clean fuel that is up to half tap water has been approved for marketing as a "primary" fuel just like gasoline and diesel.
"This is a tremendous breakthrough for us," said Rudolf Gunnerman, the German-born scientist who developed the fuel at his Reno, Nevada laboratory. Gunnerman is testing and marketing the fuel through a joint venture with diesel giant Caterpillar Inc.
The new fuel is still being tested to verify its low emissions,
cold-start ability, and engine wear and tear. But tests on multiple engine designs in Nevada, at Caterpillar's Illinois testing facility, and elsewhere show the fuel performs as well as conventional fuels but with a 60 percent reduction in key emissions.
In a recent fact-sheet issued by the Environmental Protection Agency and Energy Department, the new fuel, called A-21, does not meet the definition of an alternative fuel because of its petroleum content. But it deems
A-21 legal to purchase in the United States, adding that engine modifications to use it are legal as long as they don't boost emissions.
A-21 is a milky fluid consisting of up to 55 percent water and 45 percent "naphtha," a petroleum-based product that emerges in the earliest stages of oil refining.
After seven years of experimentation, Gunnerman discovered a binding agent that keeps water and naphtha mixed -- the two normally are mutually repellant. Trace amounts of additives are combined to prevent freezing.
The high water content means the fuel can be produced at a fraction of the cost of today's gasoline while sharply reducing the amount of petroleum needed to power an engine. Early estimates are that A-21 could be marketed for much less than the price of conventional fuel.
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