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Thread: Would like help with building a fuel cell.

  1. #1 Would like help with building a fuel cell. 
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    Sep 2013
    I am wanting to build an Aluminum/Sodium Hydroxide Fuel Cell.

    What I would like to do is build a system where I can use scrap aluminum. I am hoping to be able to drop a vessel full of scrap into a solution of sodium hydroxide to produce electricity and hydrogen. The hydrogen will be piped off into a small generator. The electricity generated will be used directly or stored into nickel/iron batteries. So I will be using both the electricity produced and the hydrogen to produce more electricity.

    In my experiment that I ran, I used aluminum as my anode and 309 stainless as my cathode.

    What I need help with is with a "basket". What I would like to do is have a basket that can be lowered into the solution full of scrap and then removed when the aluminum is finished breaking down so that the aluminum oxide can be removed and the basket can be reloaded with scrap aluminum fuel.

    Is there a material that will allow electrons to flow, while at the same time containing the aluminum as it breaks down, will hold up to the heat generated, and hold up against the sodium hydroxide reasonably well. Can I use a high nickel content stainless as a basket or would that short out the system? I realize that I might sacrifice efficiency, but am willing to look at that for convenience. What about a porous ceramic, with extremely tight mesh? My anode in the reaction vessel will be the largest piece of aluminum and most likely a new solid bar so that it is last to break down, with the rest of the basket being filled with small pieces of scrap.

    Would a stainless vessel containing the aluminum with sodium hydroxide solution in it with the aluminum and potassium hydroxide solution on the outside of it to make contact with the stainless cathode work?

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