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Engineers Perfecting Hydrogen-Generating Technology
Purdue University via Scientific Blogging
Engineers at Purdue are working on technology that 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.
(26 August 2007)
The Hydrogen Myth
Richard Embleton; Oil, be Seeing You (blog)
The first prototype hydrogen fuel cells were built in the 1960s. Over forty years later energy experts and engineers generally believe that practical delivery is still decades in the future. In far less time we went from the Wright brothers' 1903 landmark flight at Kitty Hawk to intercontinental commercial jetliners and our first ventures into space. Any technology like hydrogen fuel cells that is still decades away today and depends in any way on fossil fuels for its development, its eventual delivery or in any way as a source of fuel is not likely to ever see fruition.
Hydrogen has been the fuel of the future for the past fifty years..... and will continue to be so for at least the next fifty years. ...
The list of technological, economic and political barriers standing in the way of achieving the hydrogen dream is still prohibitively long. Nearly forty years after a 1969 report predicting Americans would be driving fuel cell vehicles in 10 years nearly every report examining the hydrogen potential is replete with words and phrases such as "could", "might", "may", "in theory", "predict", "assuming that", "need to", "must" the ubiquitous "if", and "if all things were perfect".
(27 August 2007)