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Aluminum to Solve Problems with Energy
July 7, 2010 20:51

Using aluminum can solve major problems of traditional and hydrogen power engineering, and these are not mere words according to Russian scientists.

Traditional energy resources – oil, coal, and natural gas get more and more expensive, and their production and transportation sometimes cause huge ecological disasters – think of the Gulf of Mexico. Hydrogen power engineering is the latest trend in energy experts, however, hydrogen, which energy potential is extremely high, has two significant drawbacks. First, this gas has very low density, and second, hydrogen is known to be extremely explosive. Meanwhile, aluminum, which energy potential is close to hydrogen’s, doesn’t have any of mentioned drawbacks, Aluminum is the most frequently occurring metal in nature, and third most frequent element, standing behind oxygen and silicon. Aluminum oxidation products, oxides and hydroxides, can be reused for metal reduction, and that is why there is no need to increase production of bauxites and other aluminum-containing minerals.

There are two basic methods of energy production, using aluminum, and one of them is electrochemical technique. Russian scientists developed a series of air-aluminum fuel elements, which consisted of a sacrificial anode, made of low-alloyed aluminum alloy, and a porous cathode with catalytic agent, based upon activated charcoal. Anode and cathode were separated with an alkaline electrolyte. Tests revealed that thermodynamic efficiency of such fuel element was as high as 55%. Such fuel elements can be installed as fixed units inside various vehicles, for instance, in electrically powered cars.



Second energy producing technique, where aluminum is involved, is oxidation of aluminum by water, resulting in hydrogen and thermal energy. Russian scientists created an external power source for cell phone chargers with power output of 2 Watt and an external power source for laptops with power output of 30 Watt. Key element of such power sources is a cartridge, made of a container with water and a unit with activated aluminum. This cartridge is safe, cheap and easily replaced. Currently Russian scientists work on a fixed power plant, which produces thermal energy and electricity, while oxidizing fine aluminum particles with water vapour.

Economic efficiency of aluminum-hydrogen power engineering is still lower than traditional energy technologies, however, aluminum helps solving the problem of transportation and storage of energy resources. Transportation of this metal is safer, cheaper and easier that that of coal or oil, because aluminum volume unit contains much more energy. The problem of fuel wastes also doesn’t exist, because aluminum oxidation products are used for aluminum production. Aluminum energy is even more promising for cars and aircrafts, since oil get more and more expensive. Electric cars (those, equipped with air-aluminum electrochemical generators) require two time less money to be spent on their fuel, than ordinary cars. Moreover, such generators beat even most perfect accumulators in energy density and energy unit cost.

Russian scientists tend to think that aluminum-hydrogen power units are the future of power engineering

Sources: Institute of Physics

Kizilova Anna

Tags: Russian Scientists ecology    

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