It’s about time. We’re so close. A pollution-free energy source is really obtainable for a variety of applications, whether it’s used to run a fuel cell or an internal combustion engine. Check out the science behind this hydrogen technology. These guys at Purdue make my head spin; it’s kind of a turn on.
Researchers at Purdue University have further developed a technology that could represent a pollution-free energy source for a range of potential applications, from golf carts to submarines and cars to emergency portable generators.
The technology produces hydrogen by adding water to an alloy of aluminum and gallium. When water is added to the alloy, the aluminum splits water by attracting oxygen, liberating hydrogen in the process.
The Purdue researchers are developing a method to create particles of the alloy that could be placed in a tank to react with water and produce hydrogen on demand.
The gallium is a critical component because it hinders the formation of an aluminum oxide skin normally created on aluminum’s surface after bonding with oxygen, a process called oxidation. This skin usually acts as a barrier and prevents oxygen from reacting with aluminum.
Reducing the skin’s protective properties allows the reaction to continue until all of the aluminum is used to generate hydrogen, said Jerry Woodall, a distinguished professor of electrical and computer engineering at Purdue who invented the process.
Since the technology was first announced in May, researchers have developed an improved form of the alloy that contains a higher concentration of aluminum.
Recent findings are detailed in the first research paper about the work, which will be presented on Sept. 7 during the 2nd Energy Nanotechnology International Conference in Santa Clara, Calif.
The paper was written by Woodall, Charles Allen and Jeffrey Ziebarth, both doctoral students in Purdue’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
Because the technology could be used to generate hydrogen on demand, the method makes it unnecessary to store or transport hydrogen – two major obstacles in creating a hydrogen economy, Woodall said.