Hydrogen on demand is not a new topic. Yesterday, I blogged about how Drano or a similar caustic substance may one day be used with water and aluminum to produce a hydrogen on demand reaction to power vehicles.
Companies like those mentioned in that blog Hydrogen Power Incorporated, Ecotality, HyPower Fuel Incorporated and Samsung Engineering are all currently developing hydrogen-on-demand systems. Dr. Clifton Ricketts at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) is also working with HyPower to create a raceauto using this technology.
Now, in addition to the work that is already being completed by these companies, there has been a breakthrough in hydrogen-on-demand technology from Purdue University. The Purdue Research Foundation at the university’s Discovery Park has found that applying water to pellets of aluminum alloy (made from aluminum and gallium) will produce large quantities of hydrogen quickly.
Gallium, which is an elemental metal that is liquid at room temperature, is needed in order to make the aluminum reactive with water and preventing the aluminum from skinning, which typically will stop the reaction. Gallium is readily obtained by smelting zinc ore and is used primarily by the semiconductor industry.
The only byproduct from this reaction is aluminum oxide, which can be recycled. Besides using this hydrogen-on-demand onboard the autos themselves, this technology could also be used off board at the hydrogen refueling stations. Creating hydrogen-on-demand in this fashion would mean that a huge hydrogen gas infrastructure including large pipeline networks and tanker trucks filled with compressed hydrogen gas could be avoided altogether.
So, the next time you crush an aluminum can, be sure to acknowledge that one day this may be powering your auto.