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I'm sorry, but this seems ridiculous. Aluminum is obtained from naturally ocurring Aluminum oxides. We are told upthread that Gallium is "mostly obtained as a byproduct of aluminum production_. In other words:

  • you mine ores rich in Aluminum oxide
  • you extract metallic Aluminum from it (and Gallium as a by-product) by means of an energy-intensive process
  • you then recombine the Aluminum and Gallium to obtain Aluminum oxide and Hydrogen

There is no free lunch here, might as well use the electricity spent producing the Aluminum for ordinary electrolysis of water.

By the way, the reason Gallium is an impurity in Aluminum oxides is that Aluminum and Gallium are chemically similar [both contiguous elements in the the Earth Metal (s2p1) series, Al is 1s2 2s2p6 3s2p1 and Gallium is 1s2 2s2p6 3s2p6 4s2d10p1].

Bush is a symptom, not the disease.

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat May 19th, 2007 at 11:06:52 AM EST
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... not an energy source, so what they are describing in reducing transport and storage problems is a better battery.

And better batteries are the ongoing holy grail for EV's.

Now, using hydrogen as a benchmark is, of course, making it sound much better than it may be, since as a battery, hydrogen sucks really bad. Being much better than hydrogen is something we have already accomplished, so the question becomes compared to other batteries, how effective is this.

It would seem that what it really has going for it is stability ... one presumes that it is not going to discharge on its own even if not tapped for hydrogen for weeks at a time. So I would think that the most likely use for this is for the back up power supply component in PHEV's, which is presently provided by gasoline/diesel.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat May 19th, 2007 at 11:56:49 AM EST
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It makes a whole lot more sense, energetically and in terms of takign advantage of existing infrastructure, to use electric power to produce synthetic hydrocarbons.

The only advantage of this over pure hydrogen is that storing Aluminum and Gallium in a "just add water!" hydrogen fuel cell is easier than handling pure hydrogen. But the result of this is to produce Aluminum oxide from recycled aluminum, so the spent fuel cells would have to be recycled into Aluminum-production again. Also, I am not convinced the Gallium will catalyse as oppose to being consumed and ending up as impurities in the Aluminum Oxide.

This scheme will result in making Aluminum, Gallium and electric power more expensive, and no reuse of existing liquid fuel infrastructure.

Bush is a symptom, not the disease.

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat May 19th, 2007 at 12:03:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The thing is, if there is a carbon slurry (or other carbon source) going into a direct carbon fuel cell, that is likely to be more power per kg of fuel than water plus aluminum/gallium pellets.

And carbon powder can be created from biomass through direct charcoal conversion, giving very good transportability and stability.

But altogether I'd rather bike to the closest electric train and let the train operator worry about dragging the motors and brakes and all of that around. That way I don't have to park anything in front of the house.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat May 19th, 2007 at 12:57:39 PM EST
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A version of this comment crossposted on DKos.

Bush is a symptom, not the disease.
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat May 19th, 2007 at 11:58:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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