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Hydrogen Fuel via Aluminum...Will It Really Work?

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  • Hydrogen Fuel via Aluminum...Will It Really Work?

    So this guy discovers that by adding Gallium to Aluminum, he has a catalyst that will release hydrogen from water, yielding aluminum oxide as a byproduct.

    http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?ali...modsrc=reuters

    Is this feasible, or just another "free lunch" scheme? It takes a lot of electricity to make aluminum...I'm thinking that smelting aluminum, blending it into a special alloy, pouring water on it to get hydrogen, then burning the hydrogen as fuel sounds kinda inefficient.

    And is the Aluminum Oxide byproduct fit for use as abrasives, or is it essentially another waste to be disposed of?

    And what would this do to the price of Aluminum?

  • #2
    Im not a chemist and have no idea if this could be feasable but from what iv read if this reaction is aplyable then it really could take care of some of the biggest issue's of hyd.


    "The hydrogen is generated on demand, so you only produce as much as you need when you need it," Woodall said in a statement. He said the hydrogen would not have to be stored or transported, taking care of two stumbling blocks to generating hydrogen."

    There is no disputing that an efficient "on board" hyd. producer would be a dream come true....

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    • #3
      It takes a lot of electricity to make aluminum...I'm thinking that smelting aluminum, blending it into a special alloy, pouring water on it to get hydrogen, then burning the hydrogen as fuel sounds kinda inefficient.
      Bingo.

      Aluminum-air batteries have been around for a long time. Same problem.

      http://www.aluminum.org/Template.cfm...ContentID=1159
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      • #4
        The aluminum oxide is recycled and used to make new fuel bars. I guess you have to save it up and then resell to a dealer.
        "four to tow, two to go"

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        • #5
          The proposal leads to some interesting questions.

          Even if it worked you have a second problem: reducing the aluminum oxide back to aluminum. Where's the economy?

          It would take hundreds of lb of aluminum to transport the mileage equivalent of a tank of gas in hydrogen. What would be the infrastructure that supports the exchange?

          Gallium in quantity is expensive ar $30/lb and fairly scarce. Is is consumed as part of the reaction? Where's the economy?

          Hydrogen is transported readily by existing technologies some already in place on a small scale: cryogenic liquid, pressurized gas, etc.

          I'd be interested in looking this up. Got a reference? A source?

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          • #6
            I guess you have to save it up and then resell to a dealer.
            At what, maybe 25 cents a ton? Bauxite is the most common mineral ore on Earth.
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            • #7
              I still like the "back to the future" idea where Doc had a bolt on Mr. Fusion on his delorian, I think with a Mr. Fusion you could just use a hood scoop and run of off the bugs that you catch as you go down the road...

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              • #8
                I saw that article and wondered about the part that says it requires huge solar panels or nuclear power for the alumina->aluminum conversion. This is not a big-gain idea, it's more like one way to tackle hydrogen distribution by having a simple way to make it given the magic materials that take a ton of energy to produce. So I guess it's kind of like a heavy battery for a hydrogen car. Sure, the end consuption of energy is clean, however, forget about it if the "battery" is recharged by coal power.

                The gallium is not used up, just the aluminum, which is plenty expensive enough right now. Imagine what happens when each vehicle needs hundreds of pounds of it. Edit: Each vehicle would need several sets of several-hundred-pounds of aluminum, a few to use, and a few being recycled.
                But, at least there are some alternative ideas being researched that might someday lead to "the" invention that gets us cleaner and more renewable energy.

                Another article I saw was about some easier way to get biofuel from wood that claims to be carbon negative, burying the charcoal from pyrolysis for fertilizer: http://www.physorg.com/news98708438.html
                At least trees grow faster than oil deposits.

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                • #9
                  Another thought on the hydrogen farce

                  My thinking is that using electricity to create hydrogen directly by electrolysis would be far cheaper than using it to smelt and refine aluminum.

                  I think someone will get stinking rich selling this idea. Dam shame it won't be me.

                  This morning was wet and rainy here, and I started thinking on this whole hydrogen fuel thing. If we assume that the hydrogen can be supplied affordably, and in sufficient volume to run our vehicles as we run them now, it seems to me that we would be injecting enormous amounts of water into the environments where the vehicles are running.

                  If all of the exhaust consists of only water instead of the current mix of gasses and particulates, wouldn't our city streets be constantly wet, and our metro areas, especially, immersed in a constant fog. Imagine any large city, full of water vapor-emitting cars, when the temps drop well below freezing in winter. And what will this extra water vapor do to the buildings, masonry, steel structures, etc.?

                  I have this vision of a hydrogen fueled, clammy, moldy, rusting crumbling mess. What do you think?

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                  • #10
                    The heat within the core of our little planet might help us continue on our way.

                    It is going to go away, why not use it for something meanwhile?
                    Gene

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                    • #11
                      If all of the exhaust consists of only water instead of the current mix of gasses and particulates, wouldn't our city streets be constantly wet, and our metro areas, especially, immersed in a constant fog. Imagine any large city, full of water vapor-emitting cars, when the temps drop well below freezing in winter. And what will this extra water vapor do to the buildings, masonry, steel structures, etc.?
                      Really there isn't much difference between burning other fuels and burning hydrogen in terms of water output in the exhaust. Burning natural gas produces water and carbon dioxide. Burning gasoline produces water, carbon dioxide and traces of other gases. The dirty little secret about burning hydrogen is that it produces more nitrogen oxides than burning other fuels because of the high flame temperature and the fact that most of the energy radiated by the flame is in the extreme ultraviolet.
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                      • #12
                        Roger Billingsley

                        I might have spelled his name wrong but it sounds like the title.
                        About 20 or 25 years ago built a Plymouth Aspen station wagon that ran on hydrogen. He had a fuel tank that absorbed hydrogen and only released it as the hydrogen was used. The tank had some type of material that absorbed it and released it was used. He is also the man that the government went to
                        to gain insight on what the hydrogen bubble at three mile island was going to do. He was regarded as the most knowledgeable person in the country about hydrogen. Do a search on his name and you should find a great deal of information on his work. The articles I read said his car could be refueled at home with some type of compressor. They also said as it was running low on fuel it would continue running just slower and slower. I may have his first name incorrect but I dont think so.
                        Chuck
                        Last edited by Yankee1; 05-20-2007, 03:31 AM.

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                        • #13
                          Personally I think a lot of time, money and effort will be wasted on this hydrogen thing, and in the end it will not work out.

                          We need more electricity to make pretty much all the alternative power schemes come to life, and aluminum seems like it could be at the heart of something viable. Ok, now where's the technology ever gone to harness lightning? Some guys up on a mountain somewhere made some fulgerites (sp), but that's just a minor byproduct created by the lightning stroke. What we need in an instant smelting process. ZAP! Forty tons of aluminum foil, ready to make aluminum-air batteries. ZAp! Thirty five more tons (weaker stroke) ZAPPP! Whoooeee! Sixty five tons that time! Hey Dave!
                          I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-

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                          • #14
                            A whole new meaning for "one for the road"

                            I think that this plan overlooks the key element of human nature:

                            Once the "nannies" figure out that "some people" might be refuelling with empty cans while they drive around drinking beer, it will be outlawed...
                            Today I will gladly share my experience and advice, for there no sweeter words than "I told you so."

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                            • #15
                              Gasoline contains about 36 kwh per gallon which is about 12.8 kwh/kg. This aluminum stuff takes 15kwh /kg to create and contains 4kwh per kilogram of energy from burning the produced hydrogen.

                              Speaking even more roughly, you can burn a gallon of gasoline and use it to store 1/3 of a gallon of gas worth of energy as hydrogen made from the aluminum compound and water. This does not strike me as viable.

                              According to a buddy of mine who is a hydrogen energy researcher at a government lab, hydrogen only makes sense if you can produce it from renewable energy by electrolysis of water.

                              The fossil fuel companies typically want to produce hydrogen by steam reforming of natural gas which has a similar lousy efficiency to the process above. It's great for the oil companies but no help to the public. It's my understanding that the current administration tends to fund hydrogen in terms of steam reforming as a way of spending research dollars on hydrogen while ensuring that there is no result. (Tinfoil hat attitude common among energy scientists).

                              In short, hydrogen is not practical right now because the storage techniques aren't there yet, the manufacturing technique hasn't shifted from reprocessing existing fossil fuels into hydrogen, and public acceptance of hydrogen hasn't resumed after the Hindenburg incident generations ago. Hydrogen is also not particularly valuable unless used in a fuel cell since internal combustion engines are Carnot limited.

                              One thing that is true is that using a conventional power plant's energy to produce hydrogen for a fuel cell at 80% or so efficiency (neglecting transport problems) is likely more efficient than burning the same fuel in an internal combustion engine at 35% efficiency. This is caused by the fact that the power plant is huge and heavily engineered thus able to operate at much higher temperature differences with a much higher Carnot efficiency than an internal combustion engine.

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