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December 28, 2006



This is a very interesting concept turned into practice. And it may actually be the only way we do hydrogen for transportation. But indeed not till we have pumped that last barrel of oil -- and by then not many of us will be driving around.

It might make more sense to have drive-thru aluminum powder canister exchange stations than to try to deal with an infrastructure for hydrogen gas delivery. And this scheme keeps the energy concentration high compared to hydrogen gas storage. This hydrogen vehicle scheme might actually fair better on the net energy comparison posted here last week by physics.org than electrolysis of water.

In addition, smelting aluminum is a well estabished industrial process compared to industrial electrolysis of water to make hydrogen.

Indeed, making aluminum metal from the oxide is very energy intensive -- the most of the major use metals, such as iron and copper. Electricity must be used to help carbon strip the oxygen from the aluminum [in a Hall cell]. Carbon monoxide is produced too, but at least it's burnable and sequesterable.

[If memory serves, aluminum powder is used in the space shuttle boosters -- that's why the exhaust plume is so visible and long lasting. It's oxide dust.]

Another academic excerise would be to make aluminum carbide powder and then contact it with water to produce pure methane gas.

Nevertheless, IMO EVs will still rule in the end. Although this scheme might have a nitch application/market.

Greg Woulf

I think this has some great possibilities.

I think one of the biggest drawbacks to electric is range for special trips. If you could combine a lightweight, safe system that just takes water you could run every day with just electric and without carrying the heavy water.

I wonder how purified the water would need to be. I wonder how much the system weighs without water, and if it might be something you could run this way.

You'd want to carry the Aluminum powder I think and the converter and fuel cell. I wonder what the division is in fuel, 1 lb of water for 1 lb of aluminum would mean you could carry half weight for instance. If water was the heavier half of the fuel then it gets even better.



The reaction is:

Al + 3 H2O = Al(OH)3 + 1.5 H2

To produce 1 lb of hydrogen, the min requirements would be 9 lbs of aluminum and 18 lbs of water. Or 2.2 gallons of water. The volume of the powder would be about 2000 cu-inches.

Mineral impurities in the water, I'm guessing, might condense out on the powder and hamper the reaction. Any organic impurites would likely go off with the hydrogen gas.


Greg -- Kudos on the equation to produce 1 lb of hydrogen -- Thank you very much! With one pound of hydrogen produced, how far will it propel - let's say - an average weight 4-5 passenger vehicle? (not a big honking SUV and not a tiny Mini Cooper but an average sized car).



I'm not up on all the mileage possibilites, but I remember a silly PR stunt by GM for Arnold Schwarzenegger where they made two Hummer H2s to run on hydrogen (same motor). Sixty mile range. 12 lbs of hydrogen. 5 miles per lb. Surly, a 'real hydrogen' vehicle would be much, much more.

[BTW, GM should be ashamed of themselves for that.]


This sounds like it could have potential. If one needs a source of aluminum, why not use the billions of cans and tons of scrap aluminum in a recycling system?

As for long distance trips, there is the railroad passenger service, which according to a recent article in New York Times, is seeing an increase in ridership and massive updating of equipment and trackage along with new more inspired ways of funding. Currently it costs the American public only $1.50 a year for Amtrak funding.

Paul Dietz

How is this better than aluminum-air (or zinc-air) batteries?

Greg Woulf

Harrison provided the equation, and thanks from me too Harrison.

So that means for everyday driving you could get away with 1/3 of the fuel weight approximately. Purified water might be hard to store or purchase on the road, but that's an obstacle I'd think would be easy to overcome.

2,000 cu inches is 20x10x10 I think. I'm not sure how far 1 gallon of Hydrogen would get you in this fuel cell, but if I remember right it's better than a gallon of gasoline.

Still, with a tank that's say 20in X 20in X 20in you'd get roughly equivalent to a tank of gas. The expense of Aluminum powder seems high for everyday use, but mixed with plug in electric it gets interesting.


Examine the best case scenario. The hummer gets 10 miles per gallon of gas. An economy car gets 40 miles per gallon.

So in an economy car 1 lb of H would get you 20 miles. That distance takes 27 lbs of aluminum+water. A 100 mile range would weigh 135 lbs.

Now check it out for a fuel cell instead of an ICE. The ICE is 14% efficient, the fuel cell, powering an electric vehicle, is around 6 times more efficient. So you would get a 120 mile range for the 27 lbs. of aluminum+water. Much better!

But a fueling system would be needed, one that pumped powdered aluminum (in a water slurry maybe) into the vehicle tank and siphoned the used fuel back into the "gas" pump for recycling. that takes a massive investment in infrastructure, just as with regular compressed hydrogen fueling stations.

On the other hand a quick charge battery powered vehicle like the Pheonix design has the same range and can recharge from the grid. Unlimited range can be installed, in vehicles that need that, with solid oxide fuel cell/microturbine backup generation that runs on multiple liquid fuels.

This aluminum/hydrogen approach might make a good inexpensive emergency backup for electric cars though. In applications where the added expense of the backup generator was not warranted. like vehicles used to commute that ocasionally need to be driven further. In cold climates the water would freeeze though, causing internal damage problems.

You could have a "battery" of this type ready to plug in just in case you ran out of battery power. But in that case zinc/air would be the better choice. It's far simpler and could be exchanged for a new battery if/when it was used up. The zinc oxide removed and recycled into zinc, and the reusable battery recharged with zinc.

Have a couple of these zinc/air cells in the trunk just in case. For the added range, maybe 40 miles, to get to a charging station. No water to freeze as in the aluminum/hydrogen fuel cell. And no expensive fuel cell, just a standard zinc/air battery.

And here's a reason to be skeptical. The first thing they did was retrofit an ICE Ford to run on H?

This reminds one of the many scams that claim to use the electric power from a vehicle to electrolyze water then somehow either boost mileage or get free H to run the vehicle. Silly perpetual motion scams.

Why didn't they use this technology to power an electric car through a fuel cell instead? Because they want to retrofit existing vehicles? Or because it helps the scam along? Who knows. I remain skeptical.

Thomas Marihart


Seen this tech before...invented by a Mr Francois P. Cornish in the UK.

Here is the first place I saw this mentioned: http://members.tripod.com/~anon99/water_engine/index2.html#BMW%20LETTER
Keeleynet also had a listing.

You can get the purified water at walmart...its called 'distilled' and costs about .75/gal.

Al cans would likely work, and you can buy them at costco with a refreshment inside for about .30/can....just rinse it out before you toss it in ('Mr. Fusion' Back to the Future style)

The catalyst is likely KOH or similar...same stuff used in JL Naudin plasma electrolysis experiments to juice up H2 gen experiments by dropping the energy level needed to split the water from 20+KV to around 12-14KV, if I recall correctly.

Interesting. We'll have to see how this works out.


Perfect example Thomas.

1 amp x 18,000 volts=18,000 watts. So it takes an 18kw generator to power the hydrogen generator and it also consumes aluminum, but the hydrogen powers a 500 cc engine.

A 500 cc engine of that vintange would produce maybe 25 hp, that is about what the 18kw generator would need.


Dr. X, ---- Actually not using a fuel cell vehicle to demostrate this technology is probably better. That way there's nothing to distract the observer from the featured technology. And what better vehicle than a Ford Ranger. 1. It's the highest gas mileage pickup truck available. 2. It's American made. 3. It's one of the cheapest vehicles you can buy (stripped 4-cyl). 4. And it's has plenty of room and visibility for the H generator in the back.

[How do I know this? My flithy rich son how hates "investing" in new vehicles just used criteria 1 - 3 to buy one. That and it's visible on the Houston freeways with all the gas guzzling SUVs and 4-door pickups.]

This isn't scam tech IMO. It may have tech issues, but it's not a scam. It's a 'plug-in' to all the existing aluminum processing technology.

N.D.--- Yes, scrap metal can be used, but at the end of day and from energy accounting one must consider smelting of the oxide. About 90% of all aluminum now is recycled scrap. Start using it for this application and the price of scrap will go up and fresh metal will have to be smelted to backfill.

T.M. ---- My experience is very few really new things have be invented, especially in the metal processing fields. Reading 50-75 year old patents can be very interesting and enlightening. Sometimes the need or application of ideas take twists. And the old stuff gets reinvented.


"The ICE is 14% efficient, the fuel cell, powering an electric vehicle, is around 6 times more efficient"

Fuel Cells that would be used for cars would be at most 50% efficient, 40% is much more likely. Take into the account the energy you use to reprocess the aluminum and you are not much better than an ICE.
The point of moving off ICE is to reduce emmisions and have an alternate power infrastructure.


Well Abe I was talking about hydrogen fuel cell efficiency, it's pretty high. Maybe it is closer to 50% than 85%, I'm not sure.

Either way it still has that big drawback of turning bauxite back into aluminum, transporting the bauxite and aluminum, and fueling the vehicle while reclaiming the bauxite at the same time.

A huge, inefficient mess.

Plus I remember a scam that sounded an awful lot like this including the phrase "any type of water" (how many types of water have you heard of? Vonnegut's ice-9 was fictional, hehey) , "catalyst with no toxicity", and it was always really mysterious with really sketchy details just like this company's website has. that device looks pretty cheesy too, just like the ones on this opther site.

And they claimed to be operating with technology from a western Canadian university. I'm suspicious. It isn't practical anyway because of the freezing problem. One would think canadian researchers would think of that.

Really eliminating the ICE is about efficiency also. Solid oxide multi-fuel cell/microturbines operate at 75% on any liquid fuel. And in stationary mode for V2G grid backup they can operate on biogas or natural gas.


Powders and crushed ore are transported daily in bulk all over the world economically. So is coal. Hydrogen isn't and not likely ever will be.

I bet you that water never freezes in Western Canada --- in an university research lab :-) Good pt. This startup company may very well be a snake oil sales job. But the concept is less than half baked, not fully baked.

Ice-9 isn't real?! Darn. Another belief shattered.



You have given these stats in more that one post
"Solid oxide multi-fuel cell/microturbines operate at 75%"

see http://www.powergeneration.siemens.com/en/fuelcells/demonstrations/index.cfm

They potentially can get 60-70%, at current they are at 53%. Also, you would need a MAC truck to carry it. A microturbine sounds small, but by no means can fit in your car.

With regard to the "on any liquid fuel" comment, you are refering to DOSOFC, wich are the way ahead (no reforming) but are less efficient.

Again, I believe in haveing alternative sources of energy (in the future it will be a must), I just don't want to confuse the issue by talking efficiencies compared to an ICE.


Check out Franklin Fuel Cell Abe, Jim has an article here on it. And Capstone's microturbine to power an electric bus. Capstone also makes very small units for backup power.

Combine these techologies in a 10 to 20kw backup generator and it all makes sense. I'll admit it hasn't been done yet though. The problem is that if we wait for industry/government to connect the dots it may never happen.

They are all still hot for ethanol from corn burned in 14% ICE vehicles! Yow.

Where did you get your weight per kw for SOFCs estimate Abe? I need that if you have a link. Thanks.


How much energy is needed to produce the purified or distilled water needed by the process? Distillation is an obvious energy-waster. Even purification via filtration requires consideration of the energy cost of producing and/or recycling the filters.


It is notable that the DOT considers aluminum dust to be a reactive hazardous material. Aluminum dust can be explosive under certain conditions.


When I was a kid I used to make hydrogen by reacting aluminum foil with a sodium hydroxide (lye) solution. It works great- that's why you aren't supposed to use caustic cleaners on aluminum. There used to be aluminum chips in crystal Drano too. They would fizz and help break up clogs. In theory you could have had a little hydrogen explosion in your kitchen sink. Aluminum powder is hazardous if you breathe it, and if you mix it with an oxidizer, say sodium nitrate for example, or a lot of other things, you can build youself a pretty fair bomb. I don't doubt that this system would work, and it might even be cost competitive as soon as gas hits $15 a gallon.


Technically, it works but it is not practical. If we are going to use aluminum for power, better to use an aluminum/air battery. Much higher efficiency than a hydrogen fuel cell, and much less expensive to boot.

I like the idea of a zinc/air or aluminum/air emergency battery - too expensive for everyday use, but perfect (and reliable) for emergencies. Sealed until needed, there is no standby loss.


I've been expermenting with this process for some time now. This is nothing new. Al + NaOH > H2 and Sodium hydroxoaluminate are the products, not to mention the steam and heat given off by the reaction. The NaOH carry over in the steam is not good to breath. I have used this reaction to power a 5 Hp motor. It runs well. But creates a LOT of corrosion. ( Water after the H2 burns causes rust.) So consider carefully the corrosion of your engine before you jump on that band wagon.


IMHO this is a sham. The co. is being headed by Henry Fong, who is a stock con artist from the early 80s...been draining naive investors dry through a continuous cycle of large options grants %of gross assets compensation schemes, etc. for nearly 3 decades. lots of hype, miniscule revenues in that time.


I believe Henry Fords flat-top V8 might have been 14% efficient. ICE engines today are ~35%. ICE engines using DI technology are approaching 40% efficiency. Diesel engines are 45% efficient. That is why Diesel-hybrids are getting a serious look as development moves towards FC vehicles.

As previously stated FC's are not the answer to efficiency, their primary benefit is to reduce or eliminate emissions, which is diminishing.

Since 1974 HC's have been reduced by 97%, HC's 89% and NOX by 98%. A FC using a reformer will be maginally more enviromentally friendly than an ICE engine.

The ICE engine in cars is not the problem. You can drive a car from NY to Ca and produce less emissions than mowing your lawn.

These FC technologies have a purpose and will find a niche but hydrogen is not a panacea. When you put a control volume around the entire value chain to produce hydrogen and do an energy and mass balance, the waste/efficiency and emissions do not show a stellar improvement (if any).

ali mehmet

sounds great but is it for sale yet thanks

David Ko

Requests sent the scheme. Thank

David Ko

Requests sent the scheme. Thank

Archie Cooper

This is a reply to the comment above about the: This reminds one of the many scams that claim to use the electric power from a vehicle to electrolyze water then somehow either boost mileage or get free H to run the vehicle. Silly perpetual motion scams. Greg Woulf posted in december. We have a unit called the Hyranox 5000 Infusion Hydrogen Generator and have had nothing but great things to say about it, As well as a couple of our friends that bought one as well we have seen 35%-75% better milage since we installed ours. Every Tank of fuel we drive on seems to get better. The cars (ecm) adjust the fuel mix and as a result get way better mileage. Archie Cooper, High Point,NC

Archie Cooper



how about these Purdue guys?
Even if aluminum costs more than a gallon of gas right now, it will lower overall emissions (even if it requires emissions to mine/mill it).

Nick S

The equation actually is:

2al+3h2o ---- A12 + 3H2

A unit built on this principle had the following performance
"The unit produced over 1000 cc of hydrogen a minute, with an aluminium wire consumption rate of 140 to 180 cm per minute. The rate of deposition of aluminium oxide was about 4 kilograms per 500 kilometers traveled. "


Hydrogen from aluminum is never as ideal as people spouting on the internet make it sound!

They never take into account the energy that goes into producing aluminum. Refining aluminum is a tremendously energy intensive process requiring a lot of heat and some nasty by-products. The reason aluminum is relatively cheap is that we recycle so much of it. And we recycle so much of it because it is so so expensive to produce.

Using aluminum to "break down" water, corrodes the aluminum. The corroded aluminum requires an enormous amount of energy to restore back to aluminum.

This method has been successful in producing limited quantities for weather balloons and other scientific uses, however when touted as a solution for transportation fuel, the availability and price of aluminum will quickly go out of control.


2 ignitioncoils cannot possebly consume 18000W of power.

so the mention of 1A 18kV must refear to Ampereage at the primary winding of the coil and nothing else.

I would like to see the ignition coil that could leverate 1A at its secondary 18kV winding :)I tell you that if sutch a coil exists its no normal car ignition coil.

How about adding HgCl to the aluminium? Thus amalgizing the outher layer of the mettal alowing for the oxide to come of witout aplaying HV or mowing things around?

i would like to see a system with a cylindrical block of aluminium with a anod designe so that it lokes like a bucket but with a centerpole sticking up in the middle of the Al cylinder. in doing it like that the aluminium block will have an almoast constant surface area. beacorce when the outer area decreases the inner area increases leaving the total area constant.

Activated with Hg and applyed electrick feald of 3-12 V only vehn Hydrogen is wanted.

wath oter catalysts could be used instead of Hg? KOH? But that would leav Al(OH)2 instead of prefered Al2O3 :/

Father OMalley

Great posts..
I lean toward Hydrogen on demand. If this can be perfected instead of using a huge 10,000 psi tank to run one hour using a V8, it's a no-brainer.

Has anyone used turbo charging to boost the efficiency of the Hydrogen combustion in the cylinder?
Also has anyone converted the impeller energy from a turbo to generate the electricity needed for on board electrolysis?
It seems that a turbo could be piggy backed into an electricity generating mechanism that runs off the exhaust pressure of the engine..
Thanks for the great posts..

Try out www.fatheromalley.com for some more "cool" ideas..

Love to all,
Father O'Malley


we already have a great answer to the oil problem. its called hho,it can and does supplament gas engines right now.with a little effort it can be made to run cars boats air conditiong,heating units,motor cycles,race cars etc.browns gas has been around for years,and soon someone will have the guts to really care about our planet and change the world as we know it. angie


yo almost all of the coments are 2 years old,what is going on lately? angie

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If you think about how the grape-vine works, the news on innovation and alternative technologies is relatively old. There is most probably a wealth of technology out there, but we will never know about it. Do you think one man or woman is bigger then the oil/pharmaceutical companies. Greed and ignorance has prevailed for too long and the damage has already been done. Yes Nicola Tesla practically invented the industrial revolution, but look what he got in return? discredited by Edison and his entrepreneurial treachery. Do we deserve a second chance.

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