Hydrogen helps power Carmel’s street department fleet


AlGalCo is technically based in Indianapolis, but for the last eight years, founder and President Kurt Koehler has primarily officed in the City of Carmel’s Street Dept. building on W. 131st Street.

That’s where Koehler has been working to fine tune his patented technology that uses hydrogen to supplement gasoline, increasing mileage 10 to 12 percent per tank and lowering carbon emissions by 20 percent.

The City of Carmel became AlGalCo’s beta test site in 2013 and approved up to $25,000 that year to begin installing the technology on street department trucks. A handful of vehicles have begun using the technology, and the city plans to expand its use, although additional funding has not been allocated.

Enclosed in an off-the-shelf box in the pickup’s bed, canisters hold a total of two pounds of aluminum alloy that release hydrogen as water drips over them. The hydrogen is directed to the truck’s engine, where it supplements the gasoline.

“It’s like going downhill. You can hear the engine slow down because it doesn’t need as much power,” Koehler said. “So, the same thing (happens with this technology). It says we don’t need as much gas because we’re burning this other stuff.”

Koehler, an Indianapolis resident, first heard of the reaction between aluminum alloy and water more than 15 years ago at the Indiana State Fair. A longtime entrepreneur, he got in touch with the Purdue University professor who discovered it and began working on a practical use for it. AlGalCo launched in 2006.

Several years later, Koehler had a prototype ready and began reaching out to various cities and organizations with fleets that might find the technology useful. It took nearly a year to find his first customer, but he said Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard expressed interest almost immediately.

“Carmel is an innovator, and this new technology is a good partnership between an innovative private startup and local government,” Brainard said. “The world is demanding products that make our air healthier to breathe, our water safer to drink and emit less carbon. This is one way the city can lead and help.”

Koehler, who has a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University’s school of business and a master’s degree in European history from IUPUI, said windmill electricity is used to recycle the spent alloy back to its original state, making it reusable indefinitely.

Learn more at AlGalCo.com.