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Desalinator and power generator in one?

4 May 2011

An alloy that spontaneously splits water into oxygen and hydrogen might become the basis for a cheap dual-purpose desalination and power-generation technology.

Physorg reports that Purdue University distinguished professor of electrical and computer engineering, Jerry Woodall, has announced that that this alloy could provide both power and drinking water to villages:

The alloy contains aluminum, gallium, indium and tin. Immersing the alloy in freshwater or saltwater causes a spontaneous reaction, splitting the water into hydrogen and oxygen molecules. The hydrogen could then be fed to a fuel cell to generate electricity, producing water in the form of steam as a byproduct, he said.

"The steam would kill any bacteria contained in the water, and then it would condense to purified water," Woodall said. "So, you are converting undrinkable water to drinking water."

Because the technology works with saltwater, it might have marine applications, such as powering boats and robotic underwater vehicles. The technology also might be used to desalinate water, said Woodall, who is working with doctoral student Go Choi.

wowater

A cartoon illustrates the potential uses of a new theoretical type of mobile technology that would use an aluminum alloy to convert non-potable water into drinking water while also extracting hydrogen to generate electricity. Such a lightweight, portable system might be used to provide power and drinking water to villages and also for military operations. Credit: Jerry Woodall, Purdue University

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3 Comments
  1. C.B.MISRA permalink

    I am fascinated by the subject ; has this been demonstrated at any place ?

    • Not yet, as far as I know. This article was about a guy who announced the discovery of the concept, rather than the creation of a working prototype.

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