November 18, 2019
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Army scientists add a newly engineered
nano powder with urine and observe unexpected results. Hydrogen releases
from the urine at a fast and furious rate. As an army scientist we try to
develop new materials and technologies that will benefit particularly the
Soldier in the field. The research team announced earlier this
summer that a nano galvanic aluminum based powder they were developing
produces pure hydrogen when coming into contact with water. The researchers then
observed a similar reaction when adding their powder to any liquid containing
water. This powder, which we have discovered, reacts very fast with water
to produce hydrogen. Hydrogen, the most plentiful element in the universe, has
the potential to power fuel cells and provide energy to future Soldiers. Fuel
cells generate power by channeling hydrogen through a series of membranes
that split it into positive protons and negatively charged electrons at the
cathode. The electrons and protons combine with oxygen resulting in
electricity water and heat. Using the fuel cells you can generate power. One
kilogram of aluminum powder can produce 220 kilowatts of power in three
minutes. In space, astronauts recycle waste water and urine because drinking
water is a precious commodity. For Soldiers in austere environments, there
are many precious commodities but power and the energy is increasingly important
to run communications in electronics gear. And urine is usually not in short
supply. When we demonstrated it with urine we saw almost a factor of twofold
increase in the reaction rates and so in some ways we’re all very excited because
it opens it up for additional potential applications that the rates are so fast
and so efficient. The team is still investigating why urine causes a faster
reaction but it may have something to do with the electrolytes and the acidity of
the liquid, they said. I’m excited about it because it was sort of a spontaneous
finding. We weren’t expecting to develop this material specifically for hydrogen
production and was a group effort in a statement the
laboratory director Dr. Philip Perconti said it may find great utility for
forward deployed troops who need a compact and lightweight energy source.
We’ve had a an overwhelming response to the at least the initial video that we
released and we’ve been having industry partners multiple industry partners
contact us inquiring about potential licensing. We’ve had numerous
universities contact. U.S. Army partners have also reached out to us. In the
coming months the team will continue to investigate and push the limits of the
discovery to try and understand its implications. From Aberdeen Proving
Ground, Maryland, David McNally, ARL TV

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