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 4:30:47 PM
I had said hydrogen has the most potential for success, not the clear winner. Pros and Cons are rife throughout the entire array of options and not one is good enough to be a clear winner. Potential, however, seems to be most prominent with hydrogen based technologies.
Bio-fuels dip into food supply chains, which we need for actual food.
Electric cars completely seem to leave out the part about where the electric energy is made, and it still doesn't seem clear that its economically beneficial to the actual drivers even just looking at the cost of units of energy, nevermind maintenance and the like.
Hybrids are doing ok, but I've heard nightmares about even current gen Prius's drivetrains from a friend who happens to work at an undisclosed Toyota dealership. Maybe biased somehow, but he's quite technical and is typically pretty neutral in conversation.
The alternative hybrid (electric motor, gas generator aka Chevy Volt) may or may not be a better hybrid alternative, but it is a stop-gap, not an end point.
Maybe I'm misinformed, but I thought huge gains were being made regarding hydrogen based fuel cells, we just don't hear about them as much in a lot of news outlets as its a little diluted with all of the other alternatives being mentioned.
11/4/2011 10:54:10 AM
I've studied the global fuel cell industry for five years and published two comprehensive reports on hydrogen production and hydrogen storage. You are not misinformed - there are huge gains being made everywhere involving commercialization and pie-in-the-sky research. As an example, check out Jorg Weigl's fuel cell motorcycle. He's German, but had to move to Malaysia to get the support for his incredibly successful global project. You can Google him, myself (+fuel cells to get presentations), bio production of hydrogen, or hydride hydrogen storage to get more information.
You don't hear much because the research and commercialization is well distributed world wide, and fuel cells being just stack of anode+electrolyte+cathode with no moving parts or combustion are just not very sexy.
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