Written by Giles Clark, London
Wednesday, 20 February 2008
Purdue University engineers have developed a new aluminum-rich alloy that produces hydrogen, by splitting water, for transportation and power generation. Moreover, says the team, the process is economically competitive with conventional fuels
"We now have an economically viable process for producing hydrogen on-demand for vehicles
, electrical generating stations and other applications," said Jerry Woodall, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Purdue who invented the process.
When immersed in water, the alloy splits water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen, which immediately reacts with the aluminum to produce aluminum oxide, also called alumina, which can be recycled back into aluminum. Recycling aluminum from nearly pure alumina is less expensive than mining the aluminum-containing ore bauxite, making the technology more competitive with other forms of energy production, Woodall said.
"After recycling both the aluminum oxide back to aluminum and the inert gallium-indium-tin alloy only 60 times, the cost of producing energy both as hydrogen and heat using the technology would be reduced to 10 cents per kilowatt hour, making it competitive with other energy technologies," Woodall said.