New Scientist: Hydrogen Produced By Simply Adding Water to Nano Aluminum

Thanks to David Hambling of the New Scientist for alerting me to a new article he has written that has just been posted on the New Scientist website. The title is “Nano aluminium offers fuel cells on demand – just add water”

Link is here:

The article reports on a discover made (accidentally) by researchers at the US Army Research Laboratory at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. When the poured water on a new alloy they were working on, it started bubbling and gave of hydrogen.

From the article:

That doesn’t normally happen to aluminium. Usually, when exposed to water, it quickly oxidises, forming a protective barrier that puts a stop to any further reaction. But this alloy just kept reacting. The team had stumbled across the solution to a decades-old problem.

“Hydrogen has long been touted as a clean, green fuel, but it is difficult to store and move around because of its bulk. “The problem with hydrogen is always transportation and pressurisation,” says Giri.

The byproducts of the reaction are hydrogen and aluminum oxide, a widely use industrial material.

The “Hydrogen Economy” has been touted for years as a possible alternative to the fossil fuel economy, but practical problems such as storage and transportation (with attendant safety concerns) have been difficult problems to resolve. This method of producing hydrogen on demand could prove to be a significant breakthrough.

The mechanism that is behind this reaction is not described, nor is the makeup of the alloy involved. But I expect there will be much interest and speculation on those points.

  • Gerard McEk

    A while ago there was a company that also used aluminium to generate hydrogen. They found a solution to prevent Al from oxidizing. The issue is though that the energy you need for making Al again of AlO2 is enormous and is usually done with electricity and and not at such a high efficiency. That makes the whole cycle not very attractive.

    • That was “Solar Hydrogen Trends”. They have since reorganized and now call themselves “Energy Renaissance”. See I do not believe they have anything of value, and I certainly do not believe their theories and economic numbers. The cost of the aluminum means they have a clumsy battery, not an energy source.

    • cashmemorz

      How much costs involved in converting chunks of newly molten Al into nano size. Spray molten Al thru fine nozzels into frigid medium? Must be an economical way during original refining of Bauxite. This step would make the hydrogen economical from that point on.

    • artefact

      I just wanted to write the same about that company. It is only useful for special purposes imo.

  • wpj
  • Banned Squirrel

    taking the most abundant metal combined with the most abundant fluid on the planet to create energy sounds like a winner to me. 220 kilowatts of energy from 2 lbs of aluminum and water in 3 minutes.

    • Zephir

      Aluminium is only mediator of energy. You’ll need ~ 220 kilowatts of energy (and much of toxic fluoride and coal) for to prepare the 2 lbs of aluminum… And the nanoaluminum will be undoubtedly even more expensive (it probably uses silver or gallium as a catalyst).

  • Karl Venter

    Hi Max

    Is this the same patent as the process described but Dr Giri above or a different one?

    • Max Nozin

      This patent has some details of the process. If I get it correctly the cell produces reverse current which they capture to recharge driver. That can make process more efficient.

  • How much aluminium will be consumed in the process?

    • Zephir

      100% and this is their point.

      • Omega Z

        This doesn’t appear to be energy for the masses. It is for a specific purpose. Reducing military logistics cost. How many ocean tankers and military convoys of tanker trucks could be replaced with a single C-130 transport load of this stuff. Just add water obtained locally.

        Of course it could also be very cost effective for going into disaster zones leaving logistics to deal with transporting other aid such as food etc…

  • Zephir

    From video presented here it’s evident, that the catalyst is the common copper sulfate. The similar catalyst has been used before years from generation of hydrogen from iron dust and acid for Zeppelins.

  • Domenico Canino