Energy

Another hydrogen transport powder emerges, promising double the density

Another hydrogen transport powder emerges, promising double the density
A silicon-based powder that generates hydrogen when mixed into water
A silicon-based powder that generates hydrogen when mixed into water
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A silicon-based powder that generates hydrogen when mixed into water
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A silicon-based powder that generates hydrogen when mixed into water
No matter what the bag says, we don't recommend you eat Si+
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No matter what the bag says, we don't recommend you eat Si+

Stir this silicon-based powder into water, and hydrogen will bubble out, ready for immediate use. Hong Kong company EPRO Advance Technology (EAT) says its Si+ powder offers an instant end to the difficulties of shipping and storing green energy.

This is the second powdered hydrogen advance we've learned about this week, designed to solve the same problems: transporting hydrogen is difficult, dangerous and expensive, whether the costs are for cryogenic cooling in a liquid hydrogen system, or for compression to around 700 times the normal sea-level air pressure.

But where Deakin University's mechanochemical storage process takes hydrogen gas and traps it in a powder for easy, stable transport, releasing it only once the recyclable powder is heated, EAT's silicon-based powder doesn't require you to start off with any hydrogen at all – and getting the hydrogen back out is even easier.

No matter what the bag says, we don't recommend you eat Si+
No matter what the bag says, we don't recommend you eat Si+

The Si+ powder can be made using a (preferably renewable) energy source, as well as metallurgical-grade silicon – which itself can be made from sand, or from crushed-up recycled solar panels and electronics. EAT's process results in a porous silicon powder that's completely safe and easy to transport.

When you need the hydrogen, you dump the Si+ powder into water, mix it around a bit, and ... that's pretty much it. At a wide range of ambient temperatures between 0-80 °C (32-176 °F), hydrogen gas will start bubbling out. The chemical equation, says EAT, looks like this: Si + 2H2O -> SiO2 + 2H2. Thus, apart from the hydrogen gas, all that's left over is silicon dioxide, also known as silica, or the major constituent of sand. EAT says this can be shipped off to make concrete, or zeolites. Or a beach, I guess?

Here's a video, showing some powder being put into some liquid, and allegedly releasing some gas. I'm not sure it proves a whole lot, but here it is anyway.

Si+ Hydrogen Generation Short Demo

This will be much, much easier to transport than pure hydrogen. EAT gives the example of the world's first hydrogen-shipping ship, the Suiso Frontier, a 116-meter (381-ft) cargo ship that can carry 88.5 tonnes of hydrogen, cryogenically cooled into a liquid state at great expense. The Si+ powder will weigh more, but it'll also take up a ton less space. The same amount of hydrogen can effectively be carried in about 33 shipping containers full of Si+ powder, so a standard cargo ship's ~10,000 container capacity represents the ability to carry ~30,000 tonnes of hydrogen – or 339 times more than the Suiso Frontier.

Weight is definitely a factor – the Si+ powder weighs about 7.4 times as much as the hydrogen it can generate. But this represents a mass fraction around 13.5%, which is nearly double what the Deakin powder promises, and it could actually end up being weight-competitive with a compressed gas system given how heavy those tanks tend to be.

The biggest missing numbers here to us are cost and energy input – will Si+ powder compete with pure hydrogen or powdered hydrogen on cost, and how much more renewable energy will it cost to produce this stuff than an equivalent energy value run through an electrolyzer and a ball milling process? We've reached out to the company and hope to learn more.

Meanwhile, EAT says it's already got its system in front of the Hong Kong Airport Authority, which is evaluating it as a way to fuel a clean replacement to its backup gensets. The company says it's got a pilot production line online, and it's ready to scale up and fully commercialize the innovation once the right partnerships are in place.

If Si+ really does what it says on the tin, and it's not too expensive or energy-inefficient, this could certainly represent a significant step forward, particularly for green energy exporters and distributors. It appears to be an even higher-density carrier of "potential" hydrogen, with a simpler release process, than the Deakin powder, and it's every bit as safe and easy to transport or store.

We look forward to learning more. In the meanwhile, check out the video below.

EPRO Si+ • Green Hydrogen Breakthrough Announcement

Source: EPRO Advance Technology

23 comments
23 comments
Malcolm Jacks
This reminds me some years ago i made a hydrogen cell for my car that was a stainless steel element in a plastic bottle with added water and some baking powder, it went between the engine and air flow, it worked but in the process kept eating up the element. With this hydrogen powder i can see a highbreed car using this powdered hydrogen. or an add-on to compliment existing cars and get far more milage.
Malcolm Jacks
I can see this used in conjunction with existing petrol and diesel cars with an add on hydrogen cell via the air intake, that would give the car extra mileage per gallon of fuel with no extra Co2.
Steve7734
it's either the answer to several prayers ... or a little too good to be true ...
claudio
hope it doesn't come from the same makers of another type of powder, the fairy dust
EH
The 13.5% hydrogen density is amazingly high, but it doesn't account for the weight of the water needed to release the hydrogen, which would make a difference for aircraft uses. Another compound, calcium hydride (CaH2), releases 2 H2 molecules for each CaH2 molecule when added to water, for an effective 9.5% hydrogen density (not counting the weight of the water). CaH2 has been used for hydrogen storage at least since WWII.
Glen Hillier
The same thing can be done with most of the metals that are lighter than Si, like Al, Mg, and Na. These lighter elements should have higher specific energy content compared to Si. Al is probably the best since it produces AlOx which is also inert like SiO2. The real question is how energy efficient is this technology? It has to compete with batteries, which are continually improving, getting less expensive, and longer lasting.
A-A-Ron
Is there any heat released/absorbed in the chemical reaction? Does the Si+ get hot or cold as it reacts with water? How do you prevent Si+ from reacting with ambient moisture, and creating a pocket of hydrogen in whatever vessel it's stored in? If the Si+ gets hot as it reacts with ambient moisture, how do you prevent a runaway reaction? It seems like this is more of a catalyst than an energy storage medium. The hydrogen is "stored" as water, not stored in the powder, like Deakin University's solution.
Expanded Viewpoint
There's nothing to see here, Folks! After you do an audit and take in of all the costs/expenditures and benefits, and show the ratio there, you will see that it's just another boondoggle. How much energy is being consumed to run this process/cycle? It certainly isn't self sustaining!! When you take something that is flammable, and put a little bit of energy into it to start a chain reaction, it keeps on going, releasing the stored energy until all of the fuel has been converted into a waste product of some kind.
How much energy is being pumped INTO this process/cycle, as opposed to how much is taken back out again? It doesn't come anywhere close to breaking even, let alone show up on the net positive side of the equation! So of what good is it?
BogBeast
I wonder what the end-to-end efficiency is? How many renewable input KWs versus output at a fuel cell.

I wonder if has to be pure water. Would sea water do?
noteugene
Guess the company who went to market first won't be in business long.
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