Students' research could help development of hydrogen cars

Research by a pair of Augusta State University students could help make reliance on petroleum fuel for cars a thing of the past.


Lane Hammond, 24, and Jeremy Robinson, 26, have been working on a way to turn water into hydrogen to power a fuel cell.

Hydrogen cars are equipped with hydrogen tanks, a dangerous situation Mr. Robinson likened to the Hindenburg disaster. It's a difficult fuel to store safely.

The challenge is producing hydrogen in a way that is quick, cheap and safe.

The two students participated Wednesday in the university's Phi Kappa Phi Student Research and Fine Arts Conference, presenting their work to faculty and fellow students. Later this month, they will present the research to the Georgia Academy of Science.

Mr. Robinson and Mr. Hammond experimented with various aluminum alloys as a way to extract hydrogen from water. Aluminum is safe at room temperature, abundant and cheap, Mr. Hammond said. Their experiments found different alloys released hydrogen at different rates, some pulling the hydrogen from water in a day, others in minutes.

Faculty adviser Hauke Busch said many carmakers already have a hydrogen prototype.

"We have all the technology available to us," Dr. Busch said.

He said hydrogen fuel cells can replace batteries in applications other than cars and can even fuel a power station.

And the technology is much greener than others in widespread use today, he said.

Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or