Hydrogen is considered the best clean energy carrier, due to its light weight, high energy density and zero pollution. Aluminum can react with water to produce hydrogen via hydrolysis reaction. However, in the case of aluminum powders, a direct reaction of metallic Al with pure water is difficult due to thin but dense oxide film that passivates the aluminum surface. Use of alkalis, acids, catalysts and/or high reaction temperature are required for continuous hydrogen generation.
The Army Research Laboratory has invented a novel nanogalvanic structured aluminum based particulate material that reacts with water or any liquid containing water at room temperature for rapid on demand production of hydrogen for power generation. Small grains provide the nanogalvanic effect, which sweeps away the oxide film, and exposes new metallic surfaces, which enhances hydrolysis. The ARL’s method doesn’t need any alkalis, acids or other catalysts. This hydrogen production method is useful for energy conversion and production technologies that consume pure gaseous hydrogen as a fuel. This innovation could provide a stable, nonvolatile, effective means for generating hydrogen fuel on demand and avoid significant costs of transportation, compression, storage, and final delivery of hydrogen to the point of use.
- Forms hydrogen gas on demand for power generation; unprecedented reaction rate
- One liter of hydrogen generated per gram of aluminum in as low as 45 seconds; reaching 100% of theoretical yield in 3 min
- Fastest rate of hydrogen generation at room temperature without externally applied power
- Non-hazardous alloys that do not contain gallium consist of abundantly available and inexpensive metals
- A potential powder feedstock for additive manufacturing of self-cannibalizing structures for robots/drones; also can produce structural parts by conventional powder consolidation techniques
- Reacts with any liquid containing water
- Reaction is pressure independent (i.e., can be used to pressurize for actuation or propulsion)
- Non-toxic byproducts – aluminum oxide/hydroxide – can be recycled and can have alternative uses such as, heartburn antacid, fire retardant, structural ceramics, and pigments
- Provisional patent application filed
- Potential for collaboration with Army researchers