The Aluminum 'Eater
Jeffrey Uy, Bonnie Zhang
R C Palmer Secondary
Floor Location : M 213 E

Ever wondered if recycled and household items could power a flame and in turn, heat your home? In this project, we set out to produce hydrogen from Sodium Hydroxide and aluminum cans to power a flame that can be used for many other purposes. We chose this topic because hydrogen appeared to be the ideal fuel, leaving behind only water vapor. However, it is still dangerous to use as fuel, so we wanted to try to use it in other applications instead. Our device collects the hydrogen produced from the reaction of NaOH solution with aluminum foil and then lets it out through one tip to burn. The flame can be then used to stimulate a heater, stove, etc. rn Elementary gas is hardly found on earth despite the fact that hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe. Therefore, it is necessary to extract hydrogen using other methods, either from water or hydrocarbons, both of which are in abundance on earth. As of now, hydrogen production is mainly based on biological processes, electrochemical water electrolysis, or chemical methods. These methods all require direct energy/electricity. In our set-up, we were able to produce hydrogen without using direct energy/electricity. rn Our hydrogen generator was able to accommodate 350mL of 3.5M NaOH and 9g of aluminum. Aluminum foil was used to keep the entire procedure as controlled as possible. Flashback was the main obstacle and safety concern in the process of designing and building the device; so many different flashback arrestors were made and tested. The commodity price of operation would be less than 5 cents per trial. The byproduct of each reaction, sodium aluminate, can also be recycled, as it has other uses. rn We were successful in producing the hydrogen without direct energy, using it to light a flame, and then applying the flame for heating purposes. We concluded that bronze wool is a sufficient flashback arrestor, and that a bubbler is a fairly adequate filter as well as a backup flashback arrestor. Our research also shows that with a higher concentration of NaOH, more engineering and more time spent, efficiency can be easily increased. rn Our flame can be applied for many heating purposes. With the appropriate stand, the flame can serve as a stove. With a simple terra cotta pot, it could radiate heat like a heater, and with further development with suitable resources, a more advanced heater/furnace could be constructed. This concept is applicable with cheap and recycled materials. rn