Aluminum: a safe, economical, high energy density material for energy storage, transport and splitting water to make hydrogen on demand

Event Date: March 12, 2009
Speaker: Professor Jerry Woodall
Speaker Affiliation: Purdue University
Sponsor: ECE Graduate Seminar Series
Time: 3:00 PM
Location: EE 170

In 1968, a team lead by the author discovered that liquid gallium saturated with aluminum at room temperature would split water into hydrogen gas, alumina and heat. More recently his current team has discovered that bulk, solid Al rich alloys will also split water in the same manner.  Since 1) the energy density of Al via the water splitting reaction is 8.6 kW-hr/kg (as hydrogen plus heat),  2) Al is plentiful both as 400 billion kg of scrap metal lying on the planet's surface and is currently produced in large quantities at world-wide foundries via the electrolysis of  alumina,  3) the small concentrations of the Ga or (Ga,Sn,In) in the Al alloy are inert and totally recoverable, simple calculations show that Al rich alloys could be an economically viable enabler for a potable large scale hydrogen economy.  This presentation will focus on our current research aimed at understanding how and why our bulk alloys work.  We will also, discuss some of the more sensible applications for this technology.


Professor Woodall is a National Medal of Technology Laureate.  He is the inventor and pioneer of lattice-matched compound semiconductor heterojunction materials and devices.  He has lots of patents, publications, and awards, is a fellow of ECS, AVS, APS and IEEE and is a member of NAE.