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 9:15:06 PM
The problem lies in the sheer scale of biofuel production needed. Energy capture and storage by plants is very low in efficiency. Coupled with the enormous fuel requirements we have dictates fresh water requirements far beyond any available supply. I agree that algae has probably the best potential of the biofuels and that seawater based algae may be the only potentially workable direction for biofuel production.
Unfortunately with conversion efficiencies so low, area requirements so large, and the energy and materials costs to harvest and economically extract from such a low density energy source the problems are formidable.
There are many alternative energy sources that are technically feasible, but very few of those are economically feasible, and even fewer can be accommodated within our sustainable resource limits. Any workable solution must meet all three requirements. Biofuels may supply a small percentage of the energy puzzle, but it currently doesn't look to good at large scales.
It's a difficult problem with no clear winning answers, and anybody who tells you there is a clear solution is just ignorant of the over all picture. The clear answers evaporate before you when you look into the details.
"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997
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