Room temperature micro-hydrogen-generator

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


A new compact and cost-effective hydrogen-gas generator has been made that is well suited for supplying hydrogen to a fuel-cell for providing base electrical power to hand-carried appliances. This hydrogen-generator operates at room temperature, ambient pressure and is orientation-independent. The hydrogen-gas is generated by the heterogeneous catalytic hydrolysis of aqueous alkaline borohydride solution as it flows into a micro-reactor. This reactor has a membrane as one wall. Using the membrane keeps the liquid in the reactor, but allows the hydrogen-gas to pass out of the reactor to a fuel-cell anode. Aqueous alkaline 30 wt% borohydride solution is safe and promotes long application life, because this solution is non-toxic, non-flammable, and is a high energy-density (≥2200 W-h per liter or per kilogram) hydrogen-storage solution. The hydrogen is released from this storage-solution only when it passes over the solid catalyst surface in the reactor, so controlling the flow of the solution over the catalyst controls the rate of hydrogen-gas generation. This allows hydrogen generation to be matched to hydrogen consumption in the fuel-cell, so there is virtually no free hydrogen-gas during power generation. A hydrogen-generator scaled for a system to provide about 10 W electrical power is described here. However, the technology is expected to be scalable for systems providing power spanning from 1 W to kW levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15-21
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Power Sources
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Sep 26 2005


  • Catalyst
  • Fuel-cell
  • Hydrogen-generator
  • Portable power
  • Storage solution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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