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Konstantin Balakiryan develops new aluminum alloy oxidation method

Production of hydrogen by oxidation of active metals, and particularly aluminum and its alloys, is and has been studied by many universities and research centers. The main problem that scientists have been trying to solve is the formation of an oxide film on the surface of the active metals which interrupts oxidation reaction and therefore stops production of hydrogen.

“We know that the investigators who used aluminum powder in their research achieved positive results,” says Balakiryan. But the greatest success achieved in this direction has been the Purdue University scientist under the leadership of Prof. Jerry Woodall. They developed a method that uses an aluminum alloy to extract hydrogen from water for running fuel cells or internal combustion engines. They believe that this technique could be used to replace gasoline.

“The method makes it unnecessary to store or transport hydrogen - two major challenges in creating a hydrogen economy,” said Jerry Woodall in a May 15, 2007 article on Purdue University News. They created an aluminum alloy which doesn't become covered by an oxide film and does not interrupt the process of production of hydrogen. Unfortunately, the alloy consists of gallium additives. Therefore, this method cannot reach wide industrial application because of the high cost of gallium.

“We chose a different path,” says Balakiryan. “The subject of our study was a multi-component solution of the chemical oxidant. As a result of many months and laborious work, we managed to synthesize a solution which not only oxidizes active metal, but also doesn't allow the molecules of oxide to settle on the metal surface. This discovery also led to the process of continual hydrogen production until the complete dissolution (oxidation) of the total mass of the active metal. This is a totally surprising discovery.”

This method opens up incredible opportunities for producing hydrogen by reliable and environmentally-friendly ways. “Application of this technique can modify our way of how we think and produce energy thus allowing us to protect the environment as well a save billions of dollars annually on day to day energy consumption,” says Balakiryan.

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