View Full Version : Aluminum eyed as possible clean energy source
05-18-2007, 12:34 PM
By Julie Steenhuysen-Reuters
Fill your car up with aluminum?
CHICAGO - Pellets made out of aluminum and gallium can produce pure hydrogen when water is poured on them, offering a possible alternative to gasoline-powered engines, U.S. scientists say.
Hydrogen is seen as the ultimate in clean fuels, especially for powering cars, because it emits only water when burned. U.S.
President George W. Bush has proclaimed hydrogen to be the fuel of the future, but researchers have not decided what is the most efficient way to produce and store hydrogen.
In the experiment conducted at Purdue University in Indiana, "The hydrogen is generated on demand, so you only produce as much as you need when you need it," said Jerry Woodall, an engineering professor at Purdue who invented the system.
Woodall said in a statement the hydrogen would not have to be stored or transported, taking care of two stumbling blocks to generating hydrogen.
For now, the Purdue scientists think the system could be used for smaller engines like lawn mowers and chain saws. But they think it would work for cars and trucks as well, either as a replacement for gasoline or as a means of powering hydrogen fuel cells.
"It is one of the more feasible ideas out there," Jay Gore, an engineering professor and interim director of the Energy Center at Purdue's Discovery Park, said in a telephone interview on Thursday. "It's a very simple idea but had not been done before."
On its own, aluminum will not react with water because it forms a protective skin when exposed to oxygen. Adding gallium keeps the film from forming, allowing the aluminum to react with oxygen in the water, releasing hydrogen and aluminum oxide, also known as alumina.
What is left over is aluminum oxide and gallium. In the engine, the byproduct of burning hydrogen is water.
"No toxic fumes are produced," Woodall said.
Based on current energy and raw materials prices, the cost of making the hydrogen fuel is about $3 a gallon, about the same as the average price for a gallon of gas in the United States.
Recycling the aluminum oxide byproduct and developing a lower grade of gallium could bring down costs, making the system more affordable, Woodall said.
05-18-2007, 12:36 PM
A worker walks between stacks of high purity aluminum ingots at the RUSAL aluminum smelter in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk. Pellets made out of aluminum and gallium can produce pure hydrogen when water is poured on them, offering a possible alternative to gasoline-powered engines, U.S. scientists say.
Ok, so you have to place aluminum into a tank/container and than pour water on it. Sound a lot like a carbide miner's lamp, only that produces acetylene. The issues I haven't heard addressed in these plans is that hydrogen is a very small molecule and can pass through the smallest of passageways (holes, elastomers etc.). Also alumimum requires a lot of electrical energy to produce it. I seems better than the alternative of having a high pressure hydrogen tank in you car.
05-18-2007, 03:35 PM
And since it looks as though we will have a scientific solution soon,
Now's all we have to do is gird ourselves for the oil company fall out(essentially destroying this opp or monopolizing it too) when those overlords see their F%#KING profit margins go to hell cuz they have to have the profit margin to keep themselves fabulously wealthy and keep the politicians in their pockets when oil is worthless...
But good job engineers... I is one and applaud their selfless efforts.. It leaves them and the public helpless for the wolves to rape in the end... As always... Gonna take a revolution or something.... T Boone Pickens ain't gonna say, "Awe hell yes you guys can screw my oil empire for clean energy and the good of the world.... Help yerself out and I'll even sit here and do nothing...."
05-18-2007, 03:46 PM
Primary production consumes 507.16 trillion BTUs for 8 billion pounds, and recycled secondary uses 41.3 trillion BTUs for 8.2 billion pounds, making the national industry energy consumption for production 548 trillion BTUs. Energy represents about one third of the total production cost of primary aluminum. Electricity is an essential ingredient in primary aluminum production. These factors together make energy efficiency and energy management prime objectives for the industry. While the industry is a large consumer of both natural gas and electricity, the annual expenditure for electricity by the aluminum industry is more than $2 billion.
Manufacturing industries need Congress to complete action on President Bush’s comprehensive energy proposals so that the economy will benefit from adequate supplies at reasonable prices over the long term. Since the 1970s, U.C manufacturing energy consumption has grown at twice the rate of domestic energy production. This gap between energy use and production will continue to adversely affect manufacturing if the country does not resolve national energy policy with a comprehensive U.S. energy strategy that enhances supply, improves infrastructure and increases efficiency, without compromising environmental safeguards or imposing efficiency mandates.
This energy consumption is spent on producing aluminum for current use. Even recycling aluminum is an energy-intensive task.
If we were to convert to an Al/Ga fuel, where does the energy to produce and recycle the Aluminum come from?
As an engineer, I can tell you that no matter how good you make something, you can never get more out of a chemical reaction than you put into it, and most times you get much LESS out of it than was put into it. TANSTAAFL (There Ain't No Such Thang As A Free Lunch)
Sounds like a niche market technology, at best. The ebbul oil execs aren't even batting an eyelash, let alone worrying.
3 weelin geezer
05-19-2007, 01:39 AM
I have a question: So you say that you get hydrogen if you pour H2O on these pellets, eh? Whats the water made of? Right. Hydrogen. So do these hydrogen storage units really store hydrogen? Why don't they concentrate on simply taking the hydrogen out of water instead of making a mess with aluminum. Also, how do you get the Alumina out of the gas tank when you need to fill up?
05-19-2007, 02:32 AM
Just a side letter! Has anyone else noticed an increase in the planting of corn and soybeans and the diminished sewing of other crops? I think it might be bye-bye 'FarmAid'!?
05-19-2007, 10:47 AM
I've noticed a lot of tech being poured into corn and soybeans, but most family farmers look at stewardship of the land as a primary goal and plant diversity crops in rotation with cash crops.
Something that bothers me, are the vast amounts of hay that rot for lack of a market. Many farmers & ranchers in my area have so much that it's stored out in the field where it was cut, and you can see 6-8 years harvest just sitting there. Corn used to sit as much as 2-3 years but with the ethanol projects it now moves the same year it's harvested.
It's one thing to have a product, it's another to ship it to a buyer.
3 weelin geezer
05-20-2007, 01:04 AM
How much is it for each bale of hay? I bet they won't discount it for bonfires and target backstops even if its all moldy and stinky with rats living in it.
05-20-2007, 01:38 AM
Price ($/ton) as of May 11, 2007
106.10 (Large round bales)
Not counting transportation
shoot 'em up!
05-20-2007, 12:45 PM
Hay is becoming more of a big business here. My neighbor just built a huge barn to store hay and he is delivering straight to the end user most of it. The barn is just for storage of what he cant immediately sell.
He is doing this full time now.
05-20-2007, 06:05 PM
Geezer I think the aluminum releases the hydrogen from the water, not the other way around, I may be wrong though.
Hydrogen is very flamible stuff, one of my friends works in a chemical plant where they have a hydrogen pipeline that runs into the plant. They are required to check all the fittings, valves and seals for fire a couple of times a day. Since hydrogen burns with a clear flame, they check it by placing a broom around those areas and see if it catches on fire. I think he said it burns cooler than most things also.
S Johnson Down here Hay sells for $35 to $55 bucks a round bale. Its been selling out every year lately with dry conditions, farmers loosing equip to hurricanes, and a drought in East Texas causing farmers to buy hay here and ship it. My father in law has had to increase his hay production to keep up. He mostly uses it for himself but sells a few bales to some friends.
05-20-2007, 07:45 PM
We're under drought as well, worst in years. This is a dryland farming area, in normal times IF you get rain you can raise a cash crop or raise a large herd.
Problem is, we're getting the Spring rains, so the alfalfa and grasses make for a great first cut. Then the drought sets in, people sell their feeders rather than risk drought stress and low yeild, and the hay just sits.
Until the weather improves, you've got to cut to reduce fire danger, but you have nowhere to use it.
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