Mass-Producing Low-Cost Hydrogen
Ian Wright posted on May 13, 2016 | 4889 views

These days, hydrogen-fueled vehicles seem much less promising than electric ones.

That’s left some of us asking, “Dude, where’s my hydrogen car?”

One of the principal barriers to hydrogen vehicles is the cost of producing the hydrogen itself—while it may be the most abundant element in the universe, the majority of it is locked away inside stars.

Inexpensive methods for producing hydrogen here on Earth have been covered extensively on ENGINEERING.com, but (so far) none of them has entered mass production.

However, a new technology aims to do just that.

The H2 Energy Renaissance hydrogen generator is reported to produce hydrogen at a cost of fifty cents to one dollar per kilogram.

Making Hydrogen with Water and Aluminum

The patented generator uses tap water, aluminum, a chemical catalyst and up to 150 watts of electricity (from a photovoltaic solar panel) to produce hydrogen. The electricity removes oxide film from the aluminum using an electro-hydraulic shock.

The H2 Energy Renaissance hydrogen generator.
The H2 Energy Renaissance hydrogen generator.
According to H2 Energy Renaissance, this enables “a set of 16 different physical and chemical processes to take place,” which decomposes the water molecules to release hydrogen and also eats away at the aluminum plates.

The resulting hydrogen is cooled and released at 97 percent purity, a figure that has been verified by EPA-certified testers.

H2 Energy Renaissance has stated that the generator runs at 150°F and yields only water and recyclable aluminum as by-products.


A Hydrogen Renaissance?

It’s difficult not to get excited about the idea of cheaply produced hydrogen.

As H2 Energy Renaissance points out, the Toyota Mirai can travel 67 miles on 1 kilogram of hydrogen. Even at the high-end of the generator’s estimated output, that’s one dollar per 67 miles. Compared to petroleum prices in today’s market, this could be game changing.

The Toyota Mirai. (Image courtesy of Toyota.)
The Toyota Mirai. (Image courtesy of Toyota.)
Hydrogen is also clean burning and produces no greenhouse gas emissions.

But before you start preparing for the hydrogen renaissance, there are a few nits to pick. For one, the company did not disclose the generator’s rate of aluminum consumption, nor the grade of aluminum required. The cost of the chemical catalyst is also unclear.

Still, if it really works, we could be looking at the dawn of the hydrogen renaissance.

For more information, visit the H2 Energy Renaissance website.

Recommended For You