Scientists Invent Cheap Hydrogen Production Method

Engineers from Purdue University have developed a technique for producing hydrogen at a cost that would be competitive with other energy technologies.

Credit: David Umberger / Purdue News ServiceCredit: David Umberger / Purdue News Service

The researchers used a new aluminum alloy to produce hydrogen by splitting water. The alloy contains 95 percent aluminum and 5 percent of a combination of gallium, indium and tin. The key is its reduced use of gallium, which is very expensive, allowing hydrogen to be produced less expensively

"We now have an economically viable process for producing hydrogen on-demand for vehicles, electrical generating stations and other applications," said Jerry Woodall, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Purdue, who invented the process.

Also, the alloy can be recycled several times, further reducing the cost and lowering carbon dioxide emissions to about one-third of that produced in a gasoline engine.

"After recycling both the aluminum oxide [byproduct] back to aluminum and the inert gallium-indium-tin alloy only 60 times, the cost of producing energy both as hydrogen and heat using the technology would be reduced to 10 cents per kilowatt hour, making it competitive with other energy technologies," Woodall said.

Woodall and his colleagues are also developing a method to create briquettes of the alloy that could produce hydrogen on-demand when they interact with water. This development could lead to a solution for storing and transporting hydrogen, which are two of the greatest challenges facing the hydrogen economy.

Currently, the greatest requirement for the new alloy is implementing a large-scale recycling program, as well as other manufacturing infrastructure.

via: Purdue University

Lisa Zyga
Science Blogger

Feb 23, 2008
by john Lichtenstein (not verified)

misleading comparisons

It's misleading to compare "cost of producing energy both as hydrogen and heat" to the cost of energy. Heat is the cheapest and least useful form of energy so it doesn't make sense to lump it in. Gasoline is 9 cents per kWh period, no heat.

Also it's goofy to state that CO2 emissions are reduced. Recycling this Al oxide is done by electrolysis. Electricity comes from coal.

Finally a lot os swept under the table with this "recycling infrastructure". For a typical car, hundreds of pounds of weight would be added as a sludge tank to hold the wet Al oxide. That's going to hurt milage and component life. I'm sure this isn't allowed for in the Purdue calculations.

Jan 20, 2009
by Anonymous

John, There are two roads


There are two roads you could have taken in furthering information about their reports. One would advance knowledge and encourage further research. The other makes you look like a jerk.

Thank you for your contribution. I look forward to reading about your latest discovery that advances the science of alternative energy.