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New Hydrogen Generator is More Efficient and Less Expensive

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Cobalt - Efficient Hydrogen Generator
Cobalt – Efficient Hydrogen Generator

The basics of a fully functional hydrogen economy have to include both efficient and inexpensive hydrogen generators and fuel cells.

Electrolytic cells generate hydrogen and oxygen gas from water using an electric current. They are not particularly efficient however, as the energy in the resulting hydrogen and oxygen is less than that which was used to split the water molecules in the first place.

In order to increase efficiency in a hydrogen generator, still nowhere close to 100%, metal catalysts can be used. Part of the problem with even the most efficient metal-catalyst electrolytic cells though, is their expense. Platinum is one such metal, which doesn’t corrode and so lasts for a long time in the cell.

Converting hydrogen into electricity is also prohibitively expensive for exactly the same reasons. Researchers at the University of Calgary have been able to develop a suitable catalyst from an alloy of iron, nickel and cobalt, which should bring the price of both electrolytic and fuel cells down considerably.

Instead of a crystalline structure, the new hydrogen generator produces an amorphous film that is both more reactive and less prone to oxidation. The new method can also be applied to pretty much any metal without requiring the use of expensive and rare metals. Increasing the efficiency of a hydrogen generator while reducing the cost could be one solid step toward a hydrogen economy.

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11 COMMENTS

  1. Gas buoyancy in the liquid have limitation. What you think bubbling up gas under the water will have force up ward. Yes. But it does not work because the upward pressure cannot be achieved in a gas filled pipe. Gad cannot have upward pressure without liquid surrounding it. If the pipe is opened so that have liquid is around gas bubble,. then the gas will leak through the bottom opening. This cannot be used for generating any energy useful.

  2. You know when I read something like this I just get a head ache, because on the surface the statement might be true but I know different. The production of hydrogen from water using an electric current can be a lot more efficient. Here’s why… the process has a single input which is electrical power but there are several outputs which can be looped back into the process to increase the output of the gases generated. So how many outputs are there during the process? Answer this first and then tell me how many of these outputs can be used to produce more electrical power. Each time you add back into the process more energy you will increase the output gas generated. The primary electrical input remains the same.

    • @Joe Matthis what you’re describing sounds more like perpetual motion. if you use electricity to electrolyse water and then feed the resulting hydrogen gas into a fuel cell, there WILL be losses.
      That being said, this post is still electrolysis, just more efficient with a materials change. Feeding the resulting electricity back into the system will still experience losses. Can’t get more out of the system than we put into it.

      • bnjroo A fuel cell is an end user in the equation turning the generated gases back into usable electrical power. However you can produce electrical power with the outputs of electrolysis without diminishing the gas which can be then used in a fuel cell. The process must be examined a little more closely to see all the outputs.  First you start with what you know, the inputs are water and electrical power. The results are of course oxygen and hydrogen, but you also get heat, pressure and displacement. There are more but we will start with these because they are easy to understand. Now we know there are two gases generated two times more hydrogen than oxygen thus the H2O. Now how do we change these other outputs into electrical power that can be feed back into the process to yield more gas production? Well heat is an easy one so we can use a therm-electric device to generate electricity and boost the output. Not much there but we’ll keep adding. The heat it’s self increases the efficiency so maybe a bit added there. The process within a closed container will increase pressure also because of the heat. This gas pressure can then be used to drive an air motor of sorts tied to a generator making electrical power to further gas generation. We are still using the single process and single input of electrical power. We have not diminished the primary gas at all but we have added additional production. Finally we take all of this primary gas and additional gas and change it’s environment because the gas in it’s environment represents potential energy. So we place this generated gas in an sub aqua (put it under water) environment. The gas will naturally rise to the surface as the gas moves from the lowest point to the surface kinetic energy is produced which can be harnessed to produce more electrical power to generate more gas. The point being is it’s not what you put in but what your able to harness and we’ve haven’t started. Back in 2000 when hydrogen was becoming popular and was considered the best energy carrier for the future I made a point to show that it could be viable from a cost of production stand point. You mentioned perpetual motion which I liken unto free energy which might be possible under certain conditions but you will never be able to extract 100% of the energy in any process because you didn’t add it in the first place. However I believe you can extract more than you put in because your simply adding to an existing process. You could say all the extra recaptured energy is free energy from a certain view but the truth would be it was always there and we just ignored it. We have acquired a thimble full of knowledge out of the ocean and we believe we have a good handle on things. We have a way to go yet.

        • @Joe Matthis bnjroo Definitely have a ways to go, and you’re right, there are other recovery methods. Gravity is a great help I’m thinking in this situation. An electrolyser could be placed somewhere on the ocean floor. Electricity experiences zero losses going down, and surfacing gases could generate power as they surface. I wonder how much power something like that could generate, just the gas rising alone.

        • bnjroo Your on the right track because that idea was where we started. On this site there is a story about train cars being pushed up hill and storing energy to be later recovered. Now using that simple method in your mind (grandfather clock drive or falling weights) think about one vessel under water lifting another vessel outside the water. The under water vessel is filled with a gas making buoyancy thus lift and when full will lift the second vessel which is outside the water to a height equal to the depth of the water. Once this is completed you have two potential energy sources maybe three because the lifted vessel is one in the water, the lifted vessel outside the water, and if we were using generated hydrogen you would still have the hydrogen. I think the law of thermodynamics is true for any given system as long as you do not change the environment in which the system operates. For example entropy can be reduced in a vacume with zero gravity. All mater represents potential energy based upon its location within a larger system. I’ve built this system I know it works it’s all simple physics. In energy equations the power exerted to lift and object is equal to the potential energy stored in the object or kinetic released when the object falls back to earth. So when I lift the same object to the same height with less energy does that mean the potential has been reduced because I used less energy to get it up there? Or is the potential energy really a factor based only upon my ability to extract said energy? If I can get more out than I put in then something is a miss, I choose to believe I’ve only added enough energy to set things in motion the energy was always there and there is more energy to be extracted than I could add to the mix. The point is we are swimming in an abundance of energy everywhere it’s not rocket science and it’s not voodoo or even zero point or dark matter it’s just nature. We go for the bottom shelf stuff because it’s easy but we have also push aside equally useful sources of energy because it does’t make us money or fit the main stream ideas. Some wonderful achievements were made about 100 years ago and everything else has been built upon them.

        • @Joe Matthis bnjroo Ok so now it’s been almost a week, and I’m pondering your perception. I’m either a crazy person which can be dismissed or you’ve taken the information and ran with it. I’m good either way. Additional information is available.

        • @Joe Matthis bnjroo Joe, we all must be crazy for even considering these types of advancements in a world that seems all too eager to sweep the problem under the rug for our kids to discover. The ideas you present are great, but we need people more informed and powerful than you and I get them rolling. Some would look at me and say, “He’s just a ‘mechanic’.”
          I DO believe in a better way, but for now I’m only in a position to consider and inform. I’ve got ideas swimming in my head that would make your head spin, but I don’t have the science, the means, or the time to put them all on paper. :/

        • bnjroo I dont know…. I sometimes think highly educated people are at a dis advantage because they have learned far to often the limits of their thinking. I take data for what it is based upon it’s source and area of concern and look at it from a different perspective. All just pieces of a larger picture, from this perspective all the pieces are relevant even the small ones that people like you and I can contribute. Each to his own…. you might say. Keep up the good work but don’t limit yourself by saying what you might contribute isn’t important, keep a notebook write your ideas down. It’s kinda like this website it’s a storehouse of data each article in and unto it’s self not as important as the whole mass of information. I’ve been working on ideas for twenty years or more and the way I figure even a blind bird gets a worm eventually the key is to never give up. Besides hands on people make better problem solvers.

        • @Joe Matthis bnjroo sometimes different ideas conglomerate into something more solid. There are different researchers working on different parts of rechargeable battery technology, and I often wonder what would happen if they could all get together in one room for a month. A conglomeration site like this could do some good.

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