Fill your car up with aluminum?

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  • #1
Evo
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"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."

continued... http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070518/us_nm/fuel_hydrogen_dc [Broken]
 
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  • #2
Chi Meson
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How energy intensive is it to get alumininum from its ore? Can't be too much seeing how inexpensive aluminum is.
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.
I should know this, but what is the comparison here? Is that a gallon of liquid hydrogen? Gaseous hydrogen at ATM? what is the available energy comparison? Why can't a scientist write these reports?
 
  • #3
Evo
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I should know this, but what is the comparison here? Is that a gallon of liquid hydrogen? Gaseous hydrogen at ATM? what is the available energy comparison? Why can't a scientist write these reports?
:biggrin: You're just supposed to "oooh and ahhhh", apparently they don't expect anyone to actually want facts.
 
  • #4
Astronuc
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How many kgs of Al/Ga are they talking about? I wonder how many moles of H2 per mile is consumed.

What is left over is aluminum oxide and gallium. In the engine, the byproduct of burning hydrogen is water.
And where does one drop off the kgs of Al2O3 + Ga. And how often does one have to replace it.

I wonder if the $3.00/gal equiv includes replacing the spent Al/Ga.

Recycling the aluminum oxide byproduct and developing a lower grade of gallium could bring down costs, making the system more affordable, Woodall said.
I wonder if they have figured out recycling of Al2O3 + Ga, and how much it will cost.
 
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  • #5
Ivan Seeking
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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.
Am I going blind? Where did that come from?

When and if fuel cells become economically viable, our method would compete with gasoline at $3 per gallon even if aluminum costs more than a dollar per pound."
I take this to mean that it would be competitive with gas at $3.00 per gallon assuming the efficiency of fuel cells and electric motors. It does not automatically suggest that it can be made for $3.00 a gallon. Otherwise, since H2 can be burned directly in IC engines, it would be competitive with gasoline now.

The big problem with this for now is that in order to buy a fuel cell having the output power of a typical engine, it would cost something like 100 times what you will pay for the gasoline needed to drive 100,000 miles - or about 100 times the price of an engine. Then, you still get to buy the hydrogen at $3.00 per gallon equivalent.

Hydrogen is an energy carrier and the water is a hydrogen carrier. This does nothing to solve the fundamental problem of an energy source - energy to mine and prococess the Al and Ga - but it does sound like a potentially good option for storage. There is another interesting option discussed here:
https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=170679

The conversion of bauxite, or aluminum ore to primary aluminum is also the world’s most energy-intensive industrial process, and aluminum producers use more electricity than any other industry. The aluminum industry is also a significant contributor to global warming.
http://www.irn.org/programs/aluminum/index.php?id=archive/Foiling2005.html [Broken]
 
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  • #6
Astronuc
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Am I going blind? Where did that come from?
Toward to bottom of the article cited by Evo -
"No toxic fumes are produced," Woodall said.

"When and if fuel cells become economically viable, our method would compete with gasoline at $3 per gallon even if aluminum costs more than a dollar per pound."
 
  • #7
mrjeffy321
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I saw this story earlier today and when I read it, it sounded so familiar…because I have been using a very similar method for about a year and half now. I can produce large quantities of Hydrogen gas in a very short amount of time. And using this same process, I was able to run a small internal combustion engine entirely fueled by Hydrogen gas.
It is very convenient to be sure, but I would not recommend it for full scale adoption as a fuel source of automobiles since refining the Aluminum ore takes such a huge quantity of energy and you end up wasting a lot of it in the Hydrogen extraction process.
It is much more efficient to just recycle the Aluminum and save the Aluminum plans from having to refine some ore, and then take that energy which would have been used and electrolysize water with it. But then you have to store and transport that electrolytically produce H2 instead of just making it on demand with Aluminum metal.
 
  • #8
Chi Meson
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Am I going blind? Where did that come from?
They changed it! Someone must have noticed that it made no sense. My quote from before was a direct cut-n-paste from the link. Maybe they were watching us?
 
  • #9
ShawnD
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Then, you still get to buy the hydrogen at $3.00 per gallon equivalent.
People keep throwing around numbers for fuel prices and they seem to forget taxes. More than half of what you pay at the pump is taxes, so it's really more like $1.50 per gallon for gasoline, then add taxes. If hydrogen was $3/gallon to make, it would be $4.50 per gallon to buy at the pump (or $6 if the government wants to be *******s).
 
  • #10
Ivan Seeking
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They changed it! Someone must have noticed that it made no sense. My quote from before was a direct cut-n-paste from the link. Maybe they were watching us?
Ah, apparently they realized the error. The other statement suggested that the energy problem has been solved. :rolleyes: And, clearly, due to the process losses, the energy to recycle the aluminum oxide back to Al would require more energy than is gained from the forward reaction.

But the issue of storage has always been an important one, so this could be significant.
 
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  • #11
Ivan Seeking
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P.S., I had a whole bunch of late edits. I often post too soon...
 
  • #12
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How many kgs of Al/Ga are they talking about? I wonder how many moles of H2 per mile is consumed.

And where does one drop off the kgs of Al2O3 + Ga. And how often does one have to replace it.

I wonder if the $3.00/gal equiv includes replacing the spent Al/Ga.



I wonder if they have figured out recycling of Al2O3 + Ga, and how much it will cost.
Al2O3 is sapphire. Unfortunately it won't be crystallized sapphire when it comes out of the car. :tongue:
 
  • #13
ShawnD
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Something Awful has a discussion going on about this as well

How do you quickly exchange 350 pounds of waste with 350 pounds of new aluminum fuel pellets without completely redesigning the gas tank? Good question :tongue:
 
  • #14
Astronuc
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I am sure the performance degrades as the Al reacts with H2O, and I wonder about moisture in the engine when the weather is hot. Then there would be the corrosion issues. Or how about when the temperature overnight is well below 32°F (0°C) - :rofl:
 
  • #15
ShawnD
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Or how about when the temperature overnight is well below 32°F (0°C) - :rofl:
It might be able to keep itself warm if it constantly reacts. A few weeks ago I poured some Aluminum Chloride into the aqueous waste and it made the waste water pretty damn hot. It was also releasing huge clouds of HCl and one of my coworkers gave me the biggest "WTF" look I have ever seen :rofl:. Them aluminum compounds sure react crazy around water.
(it was in a fume hood, nobody was injured)
 

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