Over the past few years, I’ve talked many times about the merits of combining aluminum and water to create hydrogen. Researchers have been working on using aluminum both inside and outside the car for such hydrogen on demand production.
Some of these methods involve using either an aluminum alloy or aluminum, water and some other chemical or element to do the splitting. But according to physicist Priya Vashishta from USC plus researchers at Kumamato University in Japan, have come up with a computer model of how this works.
A clump of aluminum atoms, they are calling “superatoms” take on special properties to split water into hydrogen and oxygen on the fly easily and efficiently.
According to Science News, “Some regions of the superatom were hungry for electrons, while other regions wanted to give electrons away, the researchers found. As these sites began interacting with the surrounding water molecules, hydrogen atoms swiftly jumped from one oxygen partner to another, ultimately ending up on the aluminum superatom. After another series of complicated hydrogen bond switching events, a hydrogen atom then left the aluminum to join another hydrogen atom. The two hydrogen singletons were produced strategically close to one another, easing their ability to find each other and form a stable two-hydrogen molecule.”
The idea of using aluminum to split water has merit. Like I had stated before, this can be done either inside the vehicle or outside the vehicle, such as at the refueling pump or a local hydrogen production facility. The aluminum is also easily recyclable and since this is a chemical reaction, it is more efficient that using brute force electrolysis to pry apart the hydrogen and oxygen bonds in water.
But the computer modeling program that Priya Vashishta has developed still needs to be tested in the research lab to verify results. The outlook is promising so let’s stay tuned for this one.