Skip to comments.Fill your car up with aluminum?
Posted on 05/18/2007 10:29:42 AM PDT by NormsRevenge
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Pellets made out of aluminum and gallium can produce pure hydrogen when water is poured on them, offering a possible alternative to gasoline-powered engines, U.S. scientists say.
Hydrogen is seen as the ultimate in clean fuels, especially for powering cars, because it emits only water when burned. U.S. President George W. Bush has proclaimed hydrogen to be the fuel of the future, but researchers have not decided what is the most efficient way to produce and store hydrogen.
In the experiment conducted at Purdue University in Indiana, "The hydrogen is generated on demand, so you only produce as much as you need when you need it," said Jerry Woodall, an engineering professor at Purdue who invented the system.
Woodall said in a statement the hydrogen would not have to be stored or transported, taking care of two stumbling blocks to generating hydrogen.
For now, the Purdue scientists think the system could be used for smaller engines like lawn mowers and chain saws. But they think it would work for cars and trucks as well, either as a replacement for gasoline or as a means of powering hydrogen fuel cells.
"It is one of the more feasible ideas out there," Jay Gore, an engineering professor and interim director of the Energy Center at Purdue's Discovery Park, said in a telephone interview on Thursday. "It's a very simple idea but had not been done before."
On its own, aluminum will not react with water because it forms a protective skin when exposed to oxygen. Adding gallium keeps the film from forming, allowing the aluminum to react with oxygen in the water, releasing hydrogen and aluminum oxide, also known as alumina.
What is left over is aluminum oxide and gallium. In the engine, the byproduct of burning hydrogen is water.
"No toxic fumes are produced," Woodall said.
Based on current energy and raw materials prices, the cost of making the hydrogen fuel is about $3 a gallon, about the same as the average price for a gallon of gas in the United States.
Recycling the aluminum oxide byproduct and developing a lower grade of gallium could bring down costs, making the system more affordable, Woodall said.
A worker walks between stacks of high purity aluminum ingots at the RUSAL aluminum smelter in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk April 4, 2007. Pellets made out of aluminum and gallium can produce pure hydrogen when water is poured on them, offering a possible alternative to gasoline-powered engines, U.S. scientists say. (Ilya Naymushin/Reuters)
When will we see “BIG ALUMINUM” attacked by the Sierra Club?........
The second this technology shows any sign of improving the standard of living.
That is one additional concern -- how are we going to mine the aluminum without setting of the Greenie whackos. You know, since it's kind of illegal to shoot them.
It’s about time we wean ourselves off of aluminum. We must seek alternatives.
Well, the Aluminum is recyclable, so the fuel pellets, once exhausted can be turned in to be reused. Additional advantages, people would be more apt to re-cycle their cans and containers because of a higher price in face of higher demands........
Gallium is $1000 a pound.
As soon as they figure out that
THE EXACT SAME PEOPLE
are making money on this “alternative” energy source as were making money on oil.
True, but if this is going to be a large-scale replacement for petroleum products, there's going to have to be a HUGE initial influx of aluminum into the supply stream, which means intense mining. And our Green "friends" aren't going to like that, even if it means reducing vehicle emissions to nearly nothing, so best to consider how to neutralize them now, before this goes large-scale.
Of course, given the weight issue, I'm sure there will be some applications where weight is a critical factor that will still use some kind of petrochemical, but a combination of hydrogen power and biodiesel would reduce our dependency on petroleum to near nil.
And in the UK,
will it be AlYuminium?
This process releases hydrogen gas. You can't drive far on a gallon of hydrogen gas. If they are talking about the equivalent of a gallon of liquid hydrogen, that's a different story. The author needs to clarify (as usual).
Hydrogen is a pipe dream. Hydrocarbons are hundreds of times more efficient. There will be one exception. There are a few technologies in the pipe that will allow us to passively store cryogenic liquids with no boil-off. That will change the outlook quite a bit.
I will say that gallium-aluminium catalyzed water decomposition is a rather interesting technology. Without Google or Wiki I imagine that the reactions would be something like:
6H2O + 2Ga + 2Al -> 6H2 + Ga2O3 + Al2O3
Problem will be when you want to regenerate the catalyst. It would be much better to find a catalyst for this reaction that you can regenerate in situ. That would be nice. Good luck.
I imagine that this would be better served at a fuel station. Pump water into a holding tank with gallium-aluminium pellets, generate hydrogen gas and then compress it to liquid form. Deliver the liquid directly to the customer, who then stores it just like gasoline. The passive insulation technologies I mentioned earlier will allow that to happen.
I still say that hydrogen is not the answer. We will be on electric vehicles before there is a “hydrogen economy.” And even then, combustion engines will be around for a long time. Things such as airplanes, power plants, they all use combustion engines. You can eliminate that by using Nuclear power. But then you still have airplanes, and I imagine unless we have some breakthrough technology, they will be running on hydrocarbons for a long time to come.
But it doesn't get consumed in the process -- the same gallium can be reused infinitely. So, it's a one-time cost in the manufacturing of the fuel system, rather than a recurring cost. Also, it doesn't have to be high-grade gallium, a fair bit of it can come from the byproducts of the semiconductor industry.
I would hope that the alumina and alloy may be able to reconstituted in a reversing mechanism run by electricity.
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