Monday, May 21, 2007

Don' t You Just Love Technological Advances?


New fuel for 21st century -- aluminum pellets?

This is so cool.. and I really think hydrogen will be the fuel of the future even though there are some problems that researchers are still trying to tackle, like what would be the most efficient way to produce and store it. But for now researchers have developed pellets made out of aluminum and gallium that can produce pure hydrogen when water is poured on them. According to some scientists, this can offer a possible alternative to gasoline-powered engines.

Jerry Woodall, is an engineering professor at Purdue University in Indiana who invented the pellet system. The reports quotes him as saying:
"The hydrogen is generated on demand, so you only produce as much as you need when you need it," He said the hydrogen would not have to be stored or transported, taking care of two stumbling blocks to generating hydrogen.
Purdue scientists think the current system could be used for smaller engines like lawn mowers and chain saws. They think eventually it would work for cars and trucks as well, either as a replacement for gasoline or as a means of powering hydrogen fuel cells.

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. This reaction splits the oxygen and hydrogen contained in water, releasing hydrogen in the process. Hydrogen is seen as the ultimate in clean fuels, especially for powering cars, because it emits only water when burned. What is left over is aluminum oxide and gallium. In the engine, the byproduct of burning hydrogen is water. No toxic fumes are produced in the process.

Some of these great discoveries happen by chance.. listen to this:
"I was cleaning a crucible containing liquid alloys of gallium and aluminum," Woodall said. "When I added water to this alloy -- talk about a discovery -- there was a violent poof."
And just think, it could be quite inexpensive to produce as well, according to the article.

The Purdue Research Foundation holds title to the primary patent, which has been filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. An Indiana startup company, AlGalCo LLC., has received a license for the exclusive right to commercialize the process.

Congratulations Purdue and Professor Woodall! Now where can one invest?

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I was wondering if Woodall's process has undergone any peer review.

Anonymous said...

This is game changer if real. Other currently available fuel alternatives (solar, ethanol, bio diesel) will never make a noticable dent in US fuel consumption. This could replace hydrocarbon fuel supplies entirely.

Thinking through, however, it would require an incredible amount of additional grid capacity (electricity) probably in form of nuclear or coal. Either one is fine by me, coal can be cleaned, nuclear's not as dangerous as once was.

Way to go Purdue guys. Hope you get really rich!