Researchers Discover Doped Aluminum May Make Hydrogen Fuel Cells More Practical
November 1, 2011 2:16 PM
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Aluminum doped with titanium was able to catalyze hydrogen
We already know that hydrogen is a green fuel that can
. The catch is that hydrogen is dangerous to store both at fueling stations and aboard the vehicle. The catalyst material used in a hydrogen fuel cell is often platinum or other rare and very expensive metal. A team of researchers from the University of Texas at Dallas and Washington State University think that they may have found a much cheaper catalyst material to advance the adoption of fuel cell technology.
The new catalyst material that the researchers are investigating is a doped aluminum alloy surface. The aluminum alloy is doped with titanium. The titanium is used sparingly in the new catalyst material.
Using controlled temperatures and pressures the team studied the titanium doped aluminum surface searching for signs of catalytic reactions taking place near the titanium atoms. To discover the catalytic reaction the team used the stereoscopic signature of carbon monoxide added to the test to specifically help locate signs of a reaction.
Mercedes-Benz B-Class hydrogen fuel cell vehicle
"We've combined a novel infrared reflection absorption-based surface analysis method and first principles-based predictive modeling of catalytic efficiencies and spectral response, in which a carbon monoxide molecule is used as a probe to identify hydrogen activation on single-crystal aluminum surfaces containing catalytic dopants," says lead researcher Yves J. Chabal of the University of Texas at Dallas.
The titanium added to the aluminum advances the process by helping hydrogen bind to aluminum to form aluminum hydride. When used as a fuel storage device, aluminum hydride could be made to release the hydrogen stores it holds by raising the temperature of the storage medium.
Other researchers have been studying
for storing hydrogen.
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11/2/2011 1:27:50 AM
Yes there is a reason you don't want to create it at the distribution point. The amount of energy stored in gasoline/hydrogen is
compared to electricity. A car requires about 25 hp (about 18.5 kW) to cruise at highway speeds. If you figure it goes at 60 mph and has a 360 mile range, that's 6 hours. If its hydrogen fuel cell is 75% efficient, that's 6*18.5/.75 kWh or 533 megajoules each time you fill up the tank.
If you figure the average gas station is filling up 3 cars at a time, and it takes 5 min to fill the tank, then that's on average 5.3 MW being passed from the station to the cars. Fairly good hydrolysis is about 50% efficient, so the gas station would need power lines capable of delivering 10.7 MW. At 240 Volts, that's 44,400 Amps. The typical home has a 100-200 Amp breaker, so your one gas station will on average be drawing as much electricity as about 300 homes at max load to generate enough hydrogen to fill up those cars. It's more practical to generate the hydrogen at a central location next to a power plant, and pipe it or truck it to where it's needed.
People really underestimate the amount of energy that's in that innocuous clear liquid you pump into your car's gas tank. (Incidentally, 533 megajoules is about 4.5 gallons of gasoline.)
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