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MIT demonstrates portable hydrogen fuel generator for USMC

17th February 2022 - 13:15 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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The prototype Hydrogen Tactical Refueling Point (H-TaRP). (Photo: USMC/Lance Cpl Cheyenne Stillion)

A prototype device converts aluminium into hydrogen fuel by a reaction with water in any form — even urine.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Lincoln Laboratory has conducted a demonstration for the USMC of a prototype device to convert aluminium into hydrogen fuel.

If proven in further evaluations and broadly adopted, it could result in a ‘portable, readily available power source’ to replace heavy batteries that require recharging from a power source, the US Office of Naval Research (ONR) noted in a 15 February release.

This would align with the USMC vision for greater mobility and agility.

The device — called the Hydrogen Tactical Refueling Point (H-TaRP) — comprises an aluminium dispenser, reactor vessel, water cooling system and a control system manifold to fill a hydrogen tank.

It works by exploiting how aluminium reacts with water to generate hydrogen gas.  ‘Any form of water works in the chemical reaction: salty ocean water, river water, even urine,’ the ONR noted.

Leftover steam from the fuel creation process could be distilled and used as drinking water.

‘H-TaRP’s purpose is to eliminate the need for diesel fuel transport and battery charging by being able to use locally available resources to produce hydrogen fuel for all sorts of vehicles,’ said Erik Limpacher, head of the Energy Systems Group at MIT Lincoln Laboratory.

Future plans for H-TaRP involve extended operation and high-pressure hydrogen generation. MIT also wants to halve the size of the device.

ONR is sponsoring the hydrogen fuel research effort under its Global TechSolutions programme. It chose MIT after a competitive process.

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