Car driving on formic acid: high potential new technology

Brains Award for car on formic acid

Dutch students Start Up ‘Team FAST’ is building world’s first car on formic acid. For this high potential technology, the team was honored with the Brains Award 2015.

Is Formic Acid the high potential new technology, cars are waiting for?

After Hydrogen, it seems to be a high potential one. 

Formic Acid is produced by using electricity. Wind farms or solar panels supply the power that is needed for the production of Formic Acid, thus it is completely carbon neutral.


Is formic acid the green car fuel for the future?

The advantages of formic acid are great. Is this the technology we are waiting for?

Dutch students

Students from the Eindhoven University of Technology have developed a car prototype that works on Formic Acid. To produce the formic acid, CO2 is needed to attach the hydrogen to the CO2. In the car, formic acid is converted to Hydrogen and CO2. For this conversion, the catalyst’s function is to fasten this reaction.

In the car, the hydrogen is used to generate electricity for the motor. The CO2 is released to the air again, like where it had been extracted.

Green power

Let us show you the advantages. Formic Acid is much more practical than hydrogen. This green power is:

  • not flammable
  • not explosive
  • and at room temperature, it is liquid
    so it doesn’t need tank transportation under extremely high pressure
  • as a green energy source, it is much more secure than hydrogen
  • in addition, the energy density is high.
    A car with a tank of 100 liters can drive approximately 500 km; the range is much longer than battery cars and about as far as hydrogen cars.
  • and it does not leak through storage tanks due to being liquid at room temperature
  • moreover it has a high ignition point; higher than diesel fuel

Closed loop and CO2 neutral fuel

As the team mentions on their site, the Platina used for the fuel cell, can be recycled from ‘old’ diesel car and truck catalytic converters. Thus an increase in cars driving on Formic Acid does not mean there is an increase in platina use. Moreover, future advances in carbon nanotubes can replace platina use, but this is still in a very early stage of research.

Points of attention

There are some points which need more research. Corrosion is one of them.

It is STILL uncertain whether components such as the catalyst, will be resistant to the acid in the long term.

Another point of attention is that formic has a pH of 4.5. For methanol the pH is 12.5. Methanol can do the same, while the fuel tank is much smaller. However, methanol is flammable and formic acid is not.

Let’s follow the news from this enthousiast and inspiring young team.


T. +31 6 20 27 66 08
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