There are many uses for a hydrogen generator, from backyard experiments to electrical backup power to automotive applications to high purity uses for the industrial and laboratory sectors and for large power plants. The word “hydrogen generator” can be taken in two different ways. First, it can mean a system that generates H2 gas and second it can be a device that uses hydrogen to generate electricity.
A hydrogen generator in the backyard usually involves an aluminum can, drain cleaner and water and something to capture the gas such as a balloon. This is the most basic of all gas generating methods.
Hydrogen generators can also be used in automotive applications for on-demand use by a car. These generators can be both inside and outside of the vehicle. A hydrogen generator inside the vehicle may be a system that electrolyzes water or a system that uses a hydrogen rich compound such as sodium borohydride to generate the necessary H2 and run it through an internal combustion engine or a fuel cell.
A hydrogen generator outside of the automobile may be used to refuel the car. Such generators may operated at traditional fueling stations set along a Hydrogen Highway system or are under development as home hydrogen fueling stations.
A high purity hydrogen generator such as those from ChromTech may be utilized in the industrial and laboratory settings. Gas chromatographs are one example of instrumentation that needs high purity H2 in order to operate properly.
A hydrogen generator can also be used in large-scale power plants to generate electricity cleanly. The FutureGen clean coal initiative is currently under development for just such purposes as is an Italian hydrogen gas turbine generator that is being fueled by garbage near Rome.
Another type of hydrogen generator worth mentioning are those that supply electrical backup power or as a main power off-grid source. These types of generators can be for home use such as the HydraStax 500, which has been installed in homes in Texas and Florida. For portable backup power, Horizon and Millennium have teamed up to build the HydroPak generator for around $400.
So, as one can see, there are many types of hydrogen generators available, depending upon the application for which you’d want to use it.