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04 08 2017 01

Researchers at the US Army Research Laboratory (ARL) have discovered that a nano-galvanic aluminum-based powder of their design splits water on contact, producing hydrogen and oxygen. Scientists have known for a long time that hydrogen can be produced by adding a catalyst—such as sodium or potassium hydroxide or an acid—to aluminum. However, these methods take time, elevated temperature, and added electricity.

The ARL powder does not need a catalyst; it is also very fast. “We have calculated that one kilogram of aluminum powder can produce 220 kW of energy in just three minutes. That’s a lot of power to run any electrical equipment. These rates are the fastest known without using catalysts such as an acid, base or elevated temperatures,” said Dr. Anit Giri, a physicist with the lab’s Weapons and Materials Research Directorate.

That metric doubles if you consider the amount of heat energy produced by the exothermic reaction, Giri said.

The team demonstrated a small radio-controlled tank powered by the powder/water reaction. Moments after mixing the powder with to a small amount of water, a bubbling reaction produced a great deal of hydrogen, which was then used to power the model around the laboratory.

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