Researchers at Penn State University have discovered that combining aluminum and water will create hydrogen. Now, in many ways this is nothing new since I’ve talked about similar science before over the past couple of years.
In fact, I’ve talked about Hydrogen Power, Incorporated’s AlumiFuel technology for their H2Go hydrogen on demand system that was used to power a Ford Ranger XL truck. I’ve also talked about Purdue University scientists discovering that aluminum, gallium and water create hydrogen.
In yet another post, I had talked about how different researchers were using some combination of aluminum, sodium hydroxide, sodium borohydride, magnesium and water to create hydrogen. But, what is unique about the Penn State researchers is that they are using only aluminum and water to create hydrogen.
The scientists here are not applying heat or electricity in order to make the reaction happen. What they are doing is creating, on a nanoscale, particular geometric clusters of aluminum that bind the oxygen in the water molecule while releasing the hydrogen. And, this can be done at room temperature.
According to Virginia Commonwealth University Professor of Physics Shiv Khanna who is part of the Penn State team, “The ability to produce hydrogen at room temperature is significant because it means that we did not use any heat or energy to trigger the reaction. Traditional techniques for splitting water to produce hydrogen generally require a lot of energy at the time the hydrogen is generated.
“But our method allows us to produce hydrogen without supplying heat, connecting to a battery, or adding electricity. Once the aluminum clusters are synthesized, they can generate hydrogen on demand without the need to store it.”
The researchers are now working on a method to recycle and regenerate the aluminum clusters as needed once the reaction has completed. A chemical reaction to create hydrogen from aluminum and water could lower the price significantly compared to most methods of electrolysis of water.
Stay tuned to this one as this may be one of the most significant hydrogen production developments to come along in several years.