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”
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.