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Hydrogen Generation by Reacting Aluminum with Water

and Its Potential Impact on Global Warming


Solomon Zaromb
Zaromb Research Corp.
9S 706 William Drive, Burr Ridge, IL 60527
Fig. 1. Generation of Hydrogen
from Aluminum Waste
In view of increasing concerns over global warming
associated with the burning of fossil fuels, we present
here two potentially advantageous ways of utilizing
aluminum as a safe and compact means of energy storage CURRENTLY WASTED ALUMINUM PACKAGING,
and hydrogen generation, as summarized in the block MACHINE SHOP FILINGS, AND OTHER SCRAP
diagrams of Figs. 1 and 2.

COM- AMBIENT AIR


1. HYDROGEN FROM ALUMINUM WASTE MINU-
TOR
HYDROGEN-AIR
FUEL CELL:
Although formation of hydrogen by the reaction of
aluminum with water has been known for more than sixty H2 + O2 --> H2O WATER
years (1), its utilization for the generation of heat and HOP- SUPPLY
PER TANK
electricity from aluminum waste was not proposed until
some thirty years ago (2-4). In spite of partly successful
recycling of aluminum cans, there are still large amounts
of aluminum packaging (foils, wrappings, and various
containers), machine shop filings, and other scrap
winding up in landfills instead of serving as supplies of ALUMINUM-WATER REACTOR:
backup power for homes, hospitals, and other vital Al + H2O --> Al(OH)3 + H2
facilities. An 8-m3 half-full bin could store 10,800 kg of
aluminum in form of comminuted chips, pellets or
granules, which could yield 1,200,000 Faradays at a fuel
cell output of 0.6 volts or about 20,000 KWH. Thus the
ALUMINUM HYDROXIDE
system outlined in Fig. 1 could have been constructed so FOR
as to be immune to flooding, which could have assured RECYCLING OR DISPOSAL
cellular phone communications during the Katrina
disaster with a possible saving of many lives.

2. EMISSIONS-FREE ALUMINUM PRODUCTION Fig. 2. Emissions-Free Aluminum Production

While aluminum waste should be highly advantageous for ELECTRICITY


stationary power backups, there is not enough of it at DERIVED FROM
CARBON-FREE
present for fueling a sufficient number of electric vehicles SOURCES
to make a dent in the present global warming trend. It [NUCLEAR, HY-
SEQUESTERED
may be possible to produce aluminum without adding DROELECTRIC,
SOLAR, WIND GASEOUS
CO2 to the atmosphere by restricting the power supplied MILL, GEO- EMISSIONS
to its plants to carbon-free sources and by sequestering THERMAL, Al2O3
the plant emissions or by using recently developed inert TIDAL, ETC.] FROM
BAUXITE
cermet anodes (5). Even if these anodes may not meet all OR RE-
current specifications for commercially produced CYCLED
aluminum, they may still yield acceptable granules for Al(OH)3
hydrogen generation. ALUMINUM PRODUCTION
PLANT:

Al2O3 --> Al + O2 + EMISSIONS


REFERENCES
1. W. H. Latimer and J. H. Hildebrand, Reference Book
of Inorganic Chemistry, pp. 90-93 and 474-478, ALUMINUM PELLETS,
Macmillan Company, New York (1940). BEADS OR GRANULELS FOR
2. S. Zaromb, Methods for generating heat and electrical HYDROGEN GENERATION
energy from aluminum waste and other inexpensive
aluminum products, Patent 4,150,197, Apr. 17, 1979.
3. S. Zaromb, Electrochemical power generation
apparatus and methods, Patent 4,254,190, March 3, 1981.
4. S. Zaromb, Electrochemical power generation, Patent
4,305,999, Dec. 15, 1981.
5. Siba P. Ray et al., Cermet inert anode materials and
method of making same, Patent 6,821,312, Nov. 23 2004.