Aluminum alloy releases hydrogen from water

July 12, 2007
A Purdue University engineer has developed a method that uses an aluminum alloy to extract hydrogen from water for running fuel cells or internal combustion engines.

The method eliminates the need to store or transport hydrogen — two major hurdles on the road to a hydrogen economy, says Jerry Woodall, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Purdue and inventor of the process.

"Hydrogen is generated on demand, so you only produce as much as you need, when you need it," says Woodall. The technology could drive small internal combustion engines in portable emergency generators, lawn mowers, and chain saws. In theory, however, the process could totally replace gasoline in cars and trucks, he says.

Hydrogen is generated when water is added to pellets of aluminum alloyed with gallium. The aluminum reacts because it has a strong attraction to oxygen in the water. The reaction splits the oxygen and hydrogen, releasing hydrogen in the process.

Gallium is critical because it prevents the skin that normally forms on the aluminum's surface after oxidation. Without the skin, the reaction continues until the aluminum is used up.

Jerry Woodall, center, and doctoral students Charles Allen (holding the test tube) and Jeffrey Ziebarth demonstrate their method for producing hydrogen by adding water to an alloy of aluminum and gallium.

Sponsored Recommendations

How BASF turns data into savings

May 7, 2024
BASF continuously monitors the health of 63 substation assets — with Schneider’s Service Bureau and EcoStruxure™ Asset Advisor. ►Learn More: https://www.schn...

Agile design thinking: A key to operation-level digital transformation acceleration

May 7, 2024
Digital transformation, aided by agile design thinking, can reduce obstacles to change. Learn about 3 steps that can guide success.

Can new digital medium voltage circuit breakers help facilities reduce their carbon footprint?

May 7, 2024
Find out how facility managers can easily monitor energy usage to create a sustainable, decarbonized environment using digital MV circuit breakers.

The Digital Thread: End-to-End Data-Driven Manufacturing

May 1, 2024
Creating a Digital Thread by harnessing end-to-end manufacturing data is providing unprecedented opportunities to create efficiencies in the world of manufacturing.

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Machine Design, create an account today!