Engineers at the University of California, Riverside (UCR) have invented a new type of "safe" fuel that won't ignite unless an electric current is applied, making it safer than conventional fuels that can ignite from a flame.
The new fuel is based on an ionic liquid, a form of liquefied salt with a lower melting point than table salt and low vapor pressure. The combustion of the fuel can be controlled by modulating the applied current. If the current is cut off, the fuel can no longer ignite.
According to UCR, the new fuel can be used to run any fuel-burning engine.
From UCR News:
Theoretically, the ionic liquid fuel could be used in any type of vehicle. However, there are still questions that need to be answered before it could be commercialized. The fuel would need to be tested in various types of engines, and its efficiency would need to be determined.
An interesting property of the ionic liquid is that it can be mixed with conventional fuel and still behave the way it does on its own. "But there needs to be additional research to understand what percentage can be mixed and still have it be not flammable," Zachariah said.
Though there are a number of areas for additional research on the liquid, the team is excited to have made a fuel that is safe from accidental, unintended fires.