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Do You Know That Aluminum Can Be Used As a Hydrogen Source for Fuel Cells?
6 Aug, 2007 11:35 am
Metal Al has been widely used in industry and daily life because of its light weight and good oxidation resistance. However, recent findings by Zhen-Yan Deng et al. show that metal Al powder could completely react with water and generate hydrogen at room temperature under atmospheric pressure after surface modifications; this opens a new, cost-efficient way of supplying hydrogen for portable fuel cells.
Deng et al. used a simple ceramic processing procedure to modify the surfaces of Al powder and found that modified Al powder could completely react with water and generate 4.8 wt% H2 under ambient condition. Aluminum is cheaper in comparison to other hydrides and requires no expensive catalysts in order to react with water. Therefore, the modified aluminum powder is a more economically viable material to generate hydrogen for the use of portable fuel cells. This will make fuel cells a more practical and realistic option in many applications.
Moreover, Deng et al. also found that pure Al powder could completely react with water and generate 3.7 wt% H2 at a temperature of above 40°C under a low vacuum at 0.03 atmospheric pressure. This will also be a promising choice for fuel cell bus' or other large vehicles to use cheap pure Al powder as a hydrogen source, because it is possible and affordable to add a vacuum pump in them.
1) Zhen-Yan Deng, et al. Physicochemical Mechanism for the Continuous Reaction of -Al2O3 Modified Al Powder with Water, J. Am. Ceram. Soc. 90?2007) 1521526.
2) Zhen-Yan Deng, et al. Temperature Effect on Hydrogen Generation by the Reaction of -Al2O3-Modified Al Powder with Distilled Water, J. Am. Ceram. Soc., 88  2975977 (2005).
3) Zhen-Yan Deng, et al. Modification of Al Particle Surfaces by -Al2O3 and Its Effect on the Corrosion Behavior of Al, J. Am. Ceram. Soc., 88  97779 (2005).
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As I have not seen anything concerning it since, I thought the subject was not as use as they thought.
Cleve D. LeClair
Please forward and othe info to:
[Response] We have no any show in Eugene, so I don't know the exact material what you commented on. The current storage level of hydrogen storage materials is ~ 1 mass% H2 under the conditions of 1-10 bars and 0-100 degree C. Our Al-hydrogen technology can produce ~3.7 mass% H2 at a temperature of above 40 degree C under a low vacuum at 0.03 bar; in the practical application, considering other factors, ~ 3 mass% H2 should be reached. Therefore, a normal fuel-cell car can run 400 km using ~ 133 kg of our Al + water mixture (the data of fuel cell car can be found in L. Schlapbach et al., Nature 414 (2001) 353.)