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How to Produce Hydrogen From an Aluminum Soda Can and Water

aluminum water hydrogen 300x200 How to Produce Hydrogen From an Aluminum Soda Can and Water

picture (c) Biotele

Here’s how you can produce hydrogen to power cars, homes, or even toys. Hydrogen is the cleanest energy carrier in the universe, and is also easily obtainable from recycled soda cans and water that you can find virtually anywhere.

The process sitting at the base of this experiment is a simple one you probably learned in elementary school (but don’t remember):

2Al + 3H2O –> 3H2 + Al2O3 + heat

Basically, you need just one other element: liquid metal, also known as Galinstan, which is non-toxic, recyclable and can be easily procured from eBay. With Galinstan you activate the aluminum and turn it into what’s called “activated aluminum” (obviously).

The gallium in Galinstan prevents the aluminum from creating that oxide interface that prevents further hydrogen-producing reactions from happening. However, when gallium is inserted in the reaction, aluminum reacts with water and produces hydrogen and aluminum oxide (alumina).

So, let’s begin. You first take a drop of liquid metal and treat the aluminum surface (soda can) with it. Make sure you scratch the aluminum surface first, or otherwise the reaction won’t happen, because of the plastic foil that’s already applied to it from the factory.

Drop the “activated” aluminum in water, and you’ll start noticing how hydrogen bubbles start to emerge to the surface (see picture). There you go!

Now, to recover the liquid metal you can drop the resulting alumina suspension in caustic soda (NaOH) and the liquid metal will quickly come to surface, ready to be reused. The alumina can be sent for recycling. Learn more on how to do that here.

This article has been inspired by Biotele‘s instructable, to whom I thank for sharing the wisdom for creating a greener world. Hydrogen IS the ultimate energy carrier, but people have to know how to produce it first and not rely on industrial processes that make it from gas.

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About the author

Ovidiu has always been a fan of technology and Captain Planet. Unable to ignore the technical possibilities that exist nowadays, he started collecting and blogging about the most interesting news out there and saw that there were a lot of people interested in the same that stuff he was.


Comments

3 comments
piers
piers

It takes so much energy to produce the aluminium used for the can in the first place that it would be much more enviromentaly effective to just recycle the can or use glass bottles.

Peter Brown
Peter Brown

This is amazing!!What if a neighborhood, or a small town, creates a recycling station for the aluminum cans, in order to produce energy?Collect all the aluminum cans from the neighborhood or town, use them to produce hydrogen, and burn hydrogen to produce eletricity!Maybe the amount of eletricity generated may not be enough to power the homes, but it could be used to power a school, or a public square...Please make this process go viral! Make a YouTube video teaching how to do this!

Ovidiu Sandru
Ovidiu Sandru

if people are given a serious incentive to recycle aluminum, it would create a recycling revolution. City dumps would not be full of soda cans (which is the reality), but all of them would be recycled for money to produce hydrogen. That's the big advantage.

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