Trolysis introduces their long-awaited flagship system to consumers, which promises to be a cheaper and more efficient alternative to traditional fuel. Though it looks like a trash compactor, this system actually turns aluminum into fuel (Photo via Trolysis)
There’s so much more to aluminum than a building material. The material itself is strong, lightweight, and inexpensive. It’s found in various objects from soda cans to cars. But did you ever think aluminum could be used as a renewable fuel? The material actually houses a lot of energy. The problem is getting the fuel itself; you can’t just set aluminum on fire. Renewable energy company Trolysis has developed a system to harness aluminum as fuel, and they recently introduced a way to bring this energy to consumers.
When pure aluminum comes in contact with water, it combines with oxygen to create aluminum oxide (alumina) giving off hydrogen and heat in the process. The hydrogen can then be placed into a fuel cell to create clean energy. It’s an alternative to creating hydrogen through traditional electrolysis. Trolysis has been working on the fuel harnessing technology for a while, but according to CEO and co-founder, Josiah Nelson, they wanted an efficient way to bring it to consumers. They finally achieved that with their new flagship system.
The device uses a four-step process to convert aluminum into electricity via a reaction called electrolysis. It works by putting aluminum in the system, which is then treated and stripped of a thin naturally-occurring barrier. When it’s placed in water, it starts a chemical reaction that splits the water into hydrogen and oxygen atoms. From there, the hydrogen is immediately put through a fuel cell where it creates electricity.
It sounds complex, but the whole process only takes a matter of seconds. This renewable energy has countless uses, such as a supplement to solar and wind systems. It can also be used for utilities for load-leveling and frequency regulation making it faster and less expensive than traditional fossil fuel “peaker planters.” But what Trolysis really wants to fuel is an electric car. To fill up the car, you’d have to add a number of small aluminum rods and top up the water level. Neilson believes $5 of aluminum would get a car from Seattle to San Francisco on one tank. In terms of cost, that would be equivalent to gasoline at nearly 500 miles per gallon.
For now, the company eyeing their system for home, utility, and electric vehicle markets. While the company has overcome many of the technological challenges, there’s still some issues to resolve. One thing they’re working on is setting up a supply chain to bring the aluminum to the point of use along with recycling it. So far, there are no details regarding pricing and availability, but those interested can sign up to receive updates at trolysis.com. If this technology reaches its potential scale, it could change how we think about renewable energy.
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