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Fill your car up with aluminum?
Reuters on Yahoo ^ | 5/18/07 | Julie Steenhuysen

Posted on 05/18/2007 10:29:42 AM PDT by NormsRevenge

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Pellets made out of aluminum and gallium can produce pure hydrogen when water is poured on them, offering a possible alternative to gasoline-powered engines, U.S. scientists say.

Hydrogen is seen as the ultimate in clean fuels, especially for powering cars, because it emits only water when burned. U.S. President George W. Bush has proclaimed hydrogen to be the fuel of the future, but researchers have not decided what is the most efficient way to produce and store hydrogen.

In the experiment conducted at Purdue University in Indiana, "The hydrogen is generated on demand, so you only produce as much as you need when you need it," said Jerry Woodall, an engineering professor at Purdue who invented the system.

Woodall said in a statement the hydrogen would not have to be stored or transported, taking care of two stumbling blocks to generating hydrogen.

For now, the Purdue scientists think the system could be used for smaller engines like lawn mowers and chain saws. But they think it would work for cars and trucks as well, either as a replacement for gasoline or as a means of powering hydrogen fuel cells.

"It is one of the more feasible ideas out there," Jay Gore, an engineering professor and interim director of the Energy Center at Purdue's Discovery Park, said in a telephone interview on Thursday. "It's a very simple idea but had not been done before."

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, releasing hydrogen and aluminum oxide, also known as alumina.

What is left over is aluminum oxide and gallium. In the engine, the byproduct of burning hydrogen is water.

"No toxic fumes are produced," Woodall said.

Based on current energy and raw materials prices, the cost of making the hydrogen fuel is about $3 a gallon, about the same as the average price for a gallon of gas in the United States.

Recycling the aluminum oxide byproduct and developing a lower grade of gallium could bring down costs, making the system more affordable, Woodall said.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; News/Current Events; Your Opinion/Questions
KEYWORDS: aluminum; cleanfuels; energy; hydrogen
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1 posted on 05/18/2007 10:29:44 AM PDT by NormsRevenge
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SOOoooo.. when we run out of aluminum? What then? :-}

A worker walks between stacks of high purity aluminum ingots at the RUSAL aluminum smelter in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk April 4, 2007. Pellets made out of aluminum and gallium can produce pure hydrogen when water is poured on them, offering a possible alternative to gasoline-powered engines, U.S. scientists say. (Ilya Naymushin/Reuters)


2 posted on 05/18/2007 10:31:35 AM PDT by NormsRevenge (Semper Fi ... For want of a few good men, a nation was lost.)
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To: NormsRevenge
There was a similar article on this yesterday... I find it an interesting concept. Here's what I see as the advantages/disadvantages:

Pro

Con
3 posted on 05/18/2007 10:34:49 AM PDT by kevkrom ("Government is too important to leave up to the government" - Fred Dalton Thompsn)
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To: NormsRevenge; kevkrom

When will we see “BIG ALUMINUM” attacked by the Sierra Club?........


4 posted on 05/18/2007 10:40:40 AM PDT by Red Badger (My gerund got caught in my diphthong, and now I have a dangling participle...............)
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To: NormsRevenge

Discussed here

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1835011/posts


5 posted on 05/18/2007 10:41:39 AM PDT by Uncledave
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To: Red Badger
When will we see “BIG ALUMINUM” attacked by the Sierra Club?

The second this technology shows any sign of improving the standard of living.

That is one additional concern -- how are we going to mine the aluminum without setting of the Greenie whackos. You know, since it's kind of illegal to shoot them.

6 posted on 05/18/2007 10:42:45 AM PDT by kevkrom ("Government is too important to leave up to the government" - Fred Dalton Thompsn)
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To: NormsRevenge
Iron filings.
7 posted on 05/18/2007 10:45:39 AM PDT by ReveBM
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To: NormsRevenge

It’s about time we wean ourselves off of aluminum. We must seek alternatives.


8 posted on 05/18/2007 10:45:41 AM PDT by macamadamia ("Forget it Jake. It's Nanny Town.")
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To: kevkrom

Well, the Aluminum is recyclable, so the fuel pellets, once exhausted can be turned in to be reused. Additional advantages, people would be more apt to re-cycle their cans and containers because of a higher price in face of higher demands........


9 posted on 05/18/2007 10:45:52 AM PDT by Red Badger (My gerund got caught in my diphthong, and now I have a dangling participle...............)
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To: NormsRevenge
So in a pinch you can pee in the gas tank to get a few more miles.
10 posted on 05/18/2007 10:47:59 AM PDT by NonValueAdded (Fred Thompson in 2008 - there is no doubt about it!)
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To: NormsRevenge

Gallium is $1000 a pound.


11 posted on 05/18/2007 10:48:39 AM PDT by RightWhale (Repeal the Treaty)
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To: Red Badger

As soon as they figure out that

THE EXACT SAME PEOPLE

are making money on this “alternative” energy source as were making money on oil.


12 posted on 05/18/2007 10:50:46 AM PDT by MrB (You can't reason people out of a position that they didn't use reason to get into in the first place)
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To: Red Badger
Well, the Aluminum is recyclable, so the fuel pellets, once exhausted can be turned in to be reused. Additional advantages, people would be more apt to re-cycle their cans and containers because of a higher price in face of higher demands

True, but if this is going to be a large-scale replacement for petroleum products, there's going to have to be a HUGE initial influx of aluminum into the supply stream, which means intense mining. And our Green "friends" aren't going to like that, even if it means reducing vehicle emissions to nearly nothing, so best to consider how to neutralize them now, before this goes large-scale.

Of course, given the weight issue, I'm sure there will be some applications where weight is a critical factor that will still use some kind of petrochemical, but a combination of hydrogen power and biodiesel would reduce our dependency on petroleum to near nil.

13 posted on 05/18/2007 10:50:47 AM PDT by kevkrom ("Government is too important to leave up to the government" - Fred Dalton Thompsn)
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To: NormsRevenge

And in the UK,

will it be AlYuminium?


14 posted on 05/18/2007 10:51:39 AM PDT by MrB (You can't reason people out of a position that they didn't use reason to get into in the first place)
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To: NormsRevenge
the cost of making the hydrogen fuel is about $3 a gallon, about the same as the average price for a gallon of gas in the United States.

This process releases hydrogen gas. You can't drive far on a gallon of hydrogen gas. If they are talking about the equivalent of a gallon of liquid hydrogen, that's a different story. The author needs to clarify (as usual).

15 posted on 05/18/2007 10:51:58 AM PDT by Right Wing Assault ("..this administration is planning a 'Right Wing Assault' on values and ideals.." - John Kerry)
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To: NormsRevenge; SunkenCiv

Hydrogen is a pipe dream. Hydrocarbons are hundreds of times more efficient. There will be one exception. There are a few technologies in the pipe that will allow us to passively store cryogenic liquids with no boil-off. That will change the outlook quite a bit.

I will say that gallium-aluminium catalyzed water decomposition is a rather interesting technology. Without Google or Wiki I imagine that the reactions would be something like:

6H2O + 2Ga + 2Al -> 6H2 + Ga2O3 + Al2O3

Problem will be when you want to regenerate the catalyst. It would be much better to find a catalyst for this reaction that you can regenerate in situ. That would be nice. Good luck.

I imagine that this would be better served at a fuel station. Pump water into a holding tank with gallium-aluminium pellets, generate hydrogen gas and then compress it to liquid form. Deliver the liquid directly to the customer, who then stores it just like gasoline. The passive insulation technologies I mentioned earlier will allow that to happen.

I still say that hydrogen is not the answer. We will be on electric vehicles before there is a “hydrogen economy.” And even then, combustion engines will be around for a long time. Things such as airplanes, power plants, they all use combustion engines. You can eliminate that by using Nuclear power. But then you still have airplanes, and I imagine unless we have some breakthrough technology, they will be running on hydrocarbons for a long time to come.


16 posted on 05/18/2007 10:52:38 AM PDT by AntiKev ("No damage. The world's still turning isn't it?" - Stereo Goes Stellar - Blow Me A Holloway)
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To: RightWhale
Gallium is $1000 a pound.

But it doesn't get consumed in the process -- the same gallium can be reused infinitely. So, it's a one-time cost in the manufacturing of the fuel system, rather than a recurring cost. Also, it doesn't have to be high-grade gallium, a fair bit of it can come from the byproducts of the semiconductor industry.

17 posted on 05/18/2007 10:52:59 AM PDT by kevkrom ("Government is too important to leave up to the government" - Fred Dalton Thompsn)
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To: kevkrom

I would hope that the alumina and alloy may be able to reconstituted in a reversing mechanism run by electricity.


18 posted on 05/18/2007 10:54:15 AM PDT by bvw
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To: NormsRevenge
More practical is to use natural gas. The only byproduct
from the tailpipe is water vapor. I understand that any car can be converted to use it, and still use gasoline with the flip of a switch.
It is becoming quite popular here in Slovakia and the cost is half that of Gasoline at a gas station. If you have your own filling equipment the cost is about a quarter of the cost of gasoline.
The cars have about a 400 KM range with a reserve tank of normal gasoline to give an extra 200 KM.
The problem is that there are few stations offering natural gas.
19 posted on 05/18/2007 10:54:25 AM PDT by AlexW (Reporting from Bratislava, Slovakia)
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To: kevkrom
Biodiesel BINGO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!or Coal Diesel, along with Petro-diesel and Bio-diesel.......
20 posted on 05/18/2007 10:54:31 AM PDT by Red Badger (My gerund got caught in my diphthong, and now I have a dangling participle...............)
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To: AlexW

You guys are way ahead of the game!............


21 posted on 05/18/2007 10:55:28 AM PDT by Red Badger (My gerund got caught in my diphthong, and now I have a dangling participle...............)
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To: bvw
I would hope that the alumina and alloy may be able to reconstituted in a reversing mechanism run by electricity.

That's what yesterday's article said; so I believe it's possible.

22 posted on 05/18/2007 10:55:56 AM PDT by kevkrom ("Government is too important to leave up to the government" - Fred Dalton Thompsn)
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To: Right Wing Assault

Better info at the previous article posted for economics

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1835011/posts


23 posted on 05/18/2007 10:56:04 AM PDT by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
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To: kevkrom

What about the availability of Gallium?

I really only recall hearing about it in Chemistry class.


24 posted on 05/18/2007 10:56:46 AM PDT by ZULU (Non nobis, non nobis Domine, sed nomini tuo da gloriam. God, guts and guns made America great.)
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To: AlexW

Just a slight correction -

you have more than water as a combustion product, as natural gas is carbon based (CH4).

So you’d get some CO (incomplete combustion), CO2, and H2O when it burns.

Pure H2 being burned only produces H2O.


25 posted on 05/18/2007 10:57:15 AM PDT by MrB (You can't reason people out of a position that they didn't use reason to get into in the first place)
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To: kevkrom

There is valuable metal in the catalytic converter of the exhaust system. When they first started being used it was estimated they would last 50,000 miles and have to be replaced, not cheap, even though the catalyst was recoverable. Likely the gallium would have to be recycled, so the entire unit would be replaced when the aluminum is oxidized. If they start putting gallium in cars, the quantity would be large. How much would come from the leftovers of the semiconductor industry?


26 posted on 05/18/2007 10:57:41 AM PDT by RightWhale (Repeal the Treaty)
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To: ZULU
I really only recall hearing about it in Chemistry class.

It's used in the semiconductor industry, but I don't know where the natural resources come from, nor do I know how much or little is needed for this process.

27 posted on 05/18/2007 10:58:22 AM PDT by kevkrom ("Government is too important to leave up to the government" - Fred Dalton Thompsn)
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To: kevkrom

China is a source of gallium.


28 posted on 05/18/2007 10:59:20 AM PDT by RightWhale (Repeal the Treaty)
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To: AlexW
More practical is to use natural gas. The only byproduct from the tailpipe is water vapor.

No, Natural Gas combustion produces CO, CO2 and NOx. Burning Hydrogen in our atmosphere is also going to produce NOx.

29 posted on 05/18/2007 10:59:51 AM PDT by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
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To: kevkrom

Did it say that mechanism could be incorporated into a removable module so that one would have two modules — one charging at home, and one discharging? I guess market economics would make it preferable to sell recharged alumina modules, rather than own-your-own.


30 posted on 05/18/2007 10:59:53 AM PDT by bvw
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To: thackney

The NOX is coming from the nitrogen in the air used for combustion, right?


31 posted on 05/18/2007 11:01:29 AM PDT by MrB (You can't reason people out of a position that they didn't use reason to get into in the first place)
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To: RightWhale
From Wikpedia (for what it's worth):
Gallium does not exist in free form in nature, nor do any high-gallium minerals exist to serve as a primary source of extraction of the element or its compounds. Gallium is found and extracted as a trace component in bauxite, coal, diaspore, germanite, and sphalerite. The United States Geological Survey (USGC) estimates gallium reserves based on 50 ppm by weight concentration in known reserves of bauxite and zinc ores. Some flue dusts from burning coal have been shown to contain as much as 1.5 percent gallium.

Most gallium is extracted from the crude aluminium hydroxide solution of the Bayer process for producing alumina and aluminum. A mercury cell electrolysis and hydrolysis of the amalgam with sodium hydroxide leads to sodium gallate. Electrolysis then gives gallium metal. For semiconductor use, further purification is carried out using zone melting, or else single crystal extraction from a melt (Czochralski process). Purities of 99.9999% are routinely achieved and commercially widely available.

As of 2006, the current price for 1 kg gallium of 99.9999% purity seems to be at about 400 US$.

The statements from the scientist seem to indicate that 99.9999% purity wouldn't be required, so I would imagine the same sources could be used to produce less pure versions at a lower cost, pending supply issues.
32 posted on 05/18/2007 11:02:40 AM PDT by kevkrom ("Government is too important to leave up to the government" - Fred Dalton Thompsn)
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To: RightWhale

Another lunatic scheme from the hydronauts.


33 posted on 05/18/2007 11:04:24 AM PDT by SAJ (debunking myths about markets and prices on FR since 2001)
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To: NormsRevenge

If you want to run your car on aluminum, why not do it with a mechanically recargable battery. You would get nearly 100% of the electrical energy stored in the metal. PEM fuel cells are less than 50% efficient and you would lose even more energy in the chemical process to release hydrogen. You also would have much less complexity and expense.

There have been mechanically recargable marine batteries for about 40 years.

People are just grabbing at straws trying to figure out how to make a hydrogen car.


34 posted on 05/18/2007 11:04:40 AM PDT by dangerdoc (dangerdoc (not actually dangerous any more))
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To: bvw
I guess market economics would make it preferable to sell recharged alumina modules, rather than own-your-own.

I think the previous article speculated that module exchange would be better, that way "spent" modules could be recharged at the power source, rather than having to deal with expensive and lossy power distribution.

35 posted on 05/18/2007 11:04:53 AM PDT by kevkrom ("Government is too important to leave up to the government" - Fred Dalton Thompsn)
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To: kevkrom

Aluminum is produced with heavy use of electric power. Using aluminum to give back some of that power makes some sense, but as with hydrogen by electrolysis from other means it is only a medium not a primary source. This is not a something from nothing situation.


36 posted on 05/18/2007 11:07:06 AM PDT by RightWhale (Repeal the Treaty)
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To: thackney

Thanks, I’ll check it out.


37 posted on 05/18/2007 11:10:31 AM PDT by Right Wing Assault ("..this administration is planning a 'Right Wing Assault' on values and ideals.." - John Kerry)
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To: NormsRevenge
Apparently some people think that Aluminum comes from the Aluminum fairy, and have no idea how it is produced. Clue: A large amount of electricity is applied to molten refined Bauxite, which contains Aluminum oxide ore. It is a very energy intensive process. Even re-smelting recycled Aluminum takes considerable energy.

And Gallium is a toxic substance, if I remember correctly.

38 posted on 05/18/2007 11:13:16 AM PDT by anymouse
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To: RightWhale

Agreed. This clearly isn’t about “something for nothing”, it’s about a mechanism to store the potential hydrogen energy until the moment it’s needed for use. A hydrogen “battery”, so to speak, without the volatility of actual hydrogen.


39 posted on 05/18/2007 11:13:43 AM PDT by kevkrom ("Government is too important to leave up to the government" - Fred Dalton Thompsn)
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To: thackney
“No, Natural Gas combustion produces CO, CO2 and NOx. Burning Hydrogen in our atmosphere is also going to produce NOx.”

I am referring to smoke, odor, and particulates.
Details can be found at:
http://www.spp.sk/Portal3en/DesktopDefault.aspx?tabid=1046

40 posted on 05/18/2007 11:15:42 AM PDT by AlexW (Reporting from Bratislava, Slovakia)
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To: RightWhale

However - the gallium is not used up - it’s a catalyst. and the aluminum is turned into alumina - which can be re-smeltedback into pure metal alloy.


41 posted on 05/18/2007 11:16:10 AM PDT by xcamel (Press to Test, Release to Detonate)
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To: NormsRevenge

How does the car perform in winter when the water in the tank is frozen?

Also, would you have to manufacture expansion joints in the tank to allow for the ice to expand and prevent the fuel tank from rupturing?


42 posted on 05/18/2007 11:16:58 AM PDT by Chewbacca (Vote Ron Paul for President in 2008!!!!!! The best man for the job!)
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To: kevkrom

The technology is interesting even if it doesn’t actually get to the general marketplace.


43 posted on 05/18/2007 11:17:09 AM PDT by RightWhale (Repeal the Treaty)
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To: RightWhale
The technology is interesting even if it doesn’t actually get to the general marketplace.

True. I think the talk of using it to power cars may just be a way to grab attention. The practical applications might be less... profound.

44 posted on 05/18/2007 11:18:23 AM PDT by kevkrom ("Government is too important to leave up to the government" - Fred Dalton Thompsn)
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To: xcamel

Right, we discussed that.


45 posted on 05/18/2007 11:18:31 AM PDT by RightWhale (Repeal the Treaty)
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To: MrB
The NOX is coming from the nitrogen in the air used for combustion, right?

Yes, I do not know how you could have combustion in our nitrogen rich air and not generate NOx. Maybe if the combustion was at relatively low temperature, but then it would not be effective as an energy source.

46 posted on 05/18/2007 11:19:29 AM PDT by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
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To: NormsRevenge
“...the cost of making the hydrogen fuel is about $3 a gallon, about the same as the average price for a gallon of gas in the United States.”

What about the other costs?* It appears that they haven’t factored in the costs of taxes, and transporting, and retailing the hydrogen fuel. If they can get the cost per mile driven to match that of gasoline — then this could be one more useful alternative.

(*Assuming that they meant that the hydrogen would have the energy equivalent of a gallon of gas.)

47 posted on 05/18/2007 11:20:25 AM PDT by USFRIENDINVICTORIA
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To: NormsRevenge

“Hydrogen is seen as the ultimate in clean fuels, especially for powering cars, because it emits only water when burned.”

And when it burns, boy does it burn!


48 posted on 05/18/2007 11:20:46 AM PDT by the OlLine Rebel (Common sense is an uncommon virtue.)
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To: thackney

The catalytic exhaust converter would have to be retained.


49 posted on 05/18/2007 11:22:00 AM PDT by RightWhale (Repeal the Treaty)
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To: xcamel

If thats the case then a gallium-coated vessel may well provide equally effective catalysis. I wonder if poisoning
of the gallium catalyst occurs over time?


50 posted on 05/18/2007 11:22:29 AM PDT by rahbert
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