Dutch scientists develop first bus to run on formic acid

The back end of a hybrid bus in EindhovenA hybrid bus in Eindhoven. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

There could be a sting in the tail on the way for bus passengers – Dutch scientists have unveiled the first electric passenger vehicle to run on formic acid.

A team at Eindhoven University of Technology have built the prototype bus, which uses formic acid to generate hydrogen and carbon dioxide. Formic acid is the poison carried in the stings of ants, wasps and nettles.

Max Aerts, head of the development team, said formic acid was a cost-effective way to create hydrogen as fuel. ‘The big advantage of formic acid is that you can put it in the fuel tank’, he said. ‘The cost of rebuilding a petrol station is relatively low.’




Formic acid is easy to synthesise and cheaper and easier to store than pure hydrogen, which has to be kept in pressurised containers, Aerts explained.

Aerts told Omroep Brabant he expected the first buses adapted for formic acid to be running on the roads within one to four years.