1) What is catalytic carbon?
The result of subjecting carbon, in one of a number of different commonly available forms, to electrical current in an a processing cell with water and usually an electrolyte. Afterwards, the modified material is capable of accelerating the production of hydrogen from water in a catalytic manner, while not itself being consumed in the process.
2) How is catalytic carbon used to produce hydrogen?
A: Electro-activated carbon, aluminum, and water is placed in a suitable vessel and subjected to heat. Without any additional application of electricity, hydrogen is produced while the vast majority of oxygen is chemically bonded to the aluminum in the form of aluminum hydroxide.
3) What controls the reaction rate?
If the carbon has been sufficiently electro-activated into its catalytic state, the rate of hydrogen production is controlled by the surface area of the carbon, the surface area of the aluminum, and the temperature of the reactor vessel. For example, aluminum or carbon in the form of a powder would have a greater surface area and produce hydrogen faster than larger particles. Additionally, stirring the mixture or providing some form of agitation can accelerate the process, but is by no means required.
4) Although you’ve pointed out the degree of hydrogen production depends upon a number of variables, what is a typical rate of hydrogen production that can be achieved from a known volume of catalytic carbon, aluminum, and hydrogen? For example, one liter.
2 liters of hydrogen per minute, or more, at 80C.
5) Just how pure is the hydrogen produced, and is there a significant percentage of oxygen remaining?
In one test, using water that had been degassed before being placed in the reactor vessel, the hydrogen was analytically determined to be over 99% pure with less than 1% oxygen. Careful control over the experimental parameters could increase the purity, or, vice versa, less care could increase the percentage of contamination.
6) For how many cycles does the catalytic carbon work before degrading?
The absolute maximum has not been determined. However, unless washed between hydrogen production cycles with detergent, the catalytic potential remains. In fact, the tiny particles of carbon that can separate from the individual beads or pebbles have been collected and found to be catalytically active. This “dust” can be used again.
7) How is your catalytic carbon different from the activated charcoal or activated carbon that’s already commonly sold?
Most “activated carbon” that’s sold to control odors or be used in filters has been processed – either by chemical treatment or heating in the absence of oxygen – to have a massive abundance of tiny pores – massively increasing the surface area. In contrast, electro-activated catalytic carbon is thought to be chemically modified. The surface of the beads, pebbles, or powders of catalytic carbon may contain attached arrangements of carbon-oxygen bonds that may represent “pseudo-polar oxides.” However, other modifications, even geometric pitting or structuring, may take place that add to the effect.
8) Have you tested ordinary “activated carbon” to see how it compares in catalytic ability to your “electro-activated” material?
Yes, we’ve compared many off the shelf types of carbon, including activated carbon, and they do not approach the same level of catalytic potential. There seems to be something truly unique about the electro-activation process that cannot be matched even by “activated carbon.”
9) Activated carbon is often used along with aluminum in homemade batteries to produce a higher current (perhaps 100mA instead of a single digit mA). There are many such videos on YouTube showing the construction of these simple devices. Have you tested both commercially available “activated carbon” and “electro-activated” carbon in such a battery setup to see how they compare in performance, both in voltage and current produced?
Although we’ve performed some very preliminary tests showing a voltage is generated, we have not explored this area thoroughly.
10) Can any source of carbon be electro-activated?
Yes. Every form of carbon including ordinary charcoal from wood, coal, anthracite, and many others have been successfully treated.
11) Does it work with any electrolyte?
Seemingly so. We’ve tested many and they all have seemed to work. However, we’ve typically tested those that are less caustic and not highly dangerous.
12) Does ordinary H2 blown onto a surface of electro-activated catalytic carbon split into atomic hydrogen?
That’s a good question, because atomic hydrogen could be of great use in cold fusion experiments along with other technological applications. At this point, we are not sure.
13) Is there any water vapor produced by the process?
Yes, to variable degrees. If a significant quantity were produced it could be removed via one of many processes such as piping the hydrogen through a container of drying beads.
14) Is the hydrogen produced by this process economical due to the need for aluminum feed stock?
We believe it is very economical. The first reason is that the cost of the catalyst – including the energy used to treat it – is very low and it can be used over and over again. The second reason is that once the process is started after initial heating, the formation of aluminum hydroxide is exothermic and can provide enough heat to sustain the process if enough insulation is present. The third reason is that aluminum hydroxide is a commodity that is worth more than bulk scrap aluminum. So the aluminum used by the process is never “lost” and can be re-sold.
15) Is the process dangerous?
There is always some danger when dealing with a flammable fuel such as hydrogen. We advise home replicators to only produce small quantities of hydrogen at a time, keep the hydrogen at low pressure, and take all safety precautions.