In 2008, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) was spending considerable resources on advancing hydrogen as an alternative fuel source. While on a plane flight, Larry was thinking about the DOE’s hydrogen-related efforts and recalled some prior work where he had generated hydrogen using a chemical reaction of aluminum, sodium hydroxide, and water. He wondered about the efficiency of the chemical reaction and did some calculations on the plane that indicated the reaction was very efficient. Once back in his lab at CRR, Larry verified his calculations and decided to move forward with a chemical reaction hydrogen generation project.
Larry began trying to figure out how to maintain and control the chemical reaction so as to generate hydrogen as it was used by a vehicle, which required the ability to start, stop, and vary the rate of hydrogen being generated based on the vehicle’s demand for hydrogen fuel. He spent considerable time researching prior art chemical reaction hydrogen generators and concluded that they were batch systems, where chemical reactants were simply added to a reaction chamber to produce a chemical reaction that produced hydrogen until the reactants had been consumed. Larry understood that such systems were incapable of continuously supplying hydrogen at a controllable rate since they were self-diluting by the spent reactants that remained in the reaction chambers until the chemical reaction eventually stopped and hydrogen was no longer generated. He also recognized that the prior art batch systems had a distinct drawback of being corrosive and understood that the chemical reaction needed to maintain an active aluminum surface in aqueous conditions at neutral or near-neutral pH.
Larry concluded that for an on-demand chemical reaction hydrogen generation system to function as he envisioned that spent reactants had to be removed from the reaction chamber into a waste reservoir as they were being consumed and that they had to be replaced by fresh reactants, which would allow the chemical reaction to be continuously sustained for however long the supply of fresh reactants was available. Very importantly, he recognized that by ensuring that the alkali-hydroxide (i.e., sodium hydroxide) was substantially if not fully consumed before leaving the reaction chamber into the waste reservoir that he could sustain neutral or near-neutral pH.
Larry then began construction of a proof-of-concept (POC) on-demand hydrogen generation system in his CRR lab. The system included a chemical reaction chamber, a waste solution reservoir, a supply of aluminum that could be drawn into the reaction chamber, a supply of sodium hydroxide solution, and a peristaltic pump that he used to control the flow rate of the sodium hydroxide solution provided to the reaction chamber in order to control the chemical reaction. The POC system development effort was a success. Larry then successfully developed a second POC system, where he used a peristaltic pump to control the flow rate of the water provided to the reaction chamber in order to control the chemical reaction. As such, Larry had proven the ability to control the chemical reaction by limiting either a sodium hydroxide solution or water.
Larry filed a provisional patent application for the on-demand hydrogen generation technology on April 2, 2008. In April of 2009, Larry assigned rights to the on-demand hydrogen generation technology to CRR, which filed a U.S. patent application and a Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) patent application claiming priority to the provisional patent application. The U.S. patent application has resulted in issued U.S. patents 8,529,867 and 9,061,261. A third U.S. patent has recently been allowed by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The PCT patent application has resulted in issued Canada patent 2,720,533 and issued China patent CN102046519. A European patent application remains pending.
Given the passing of CRR cofounder and former Chief Scientist, Larry Fullerton, CRR is currently seeking to sell the on-demand hydrogen generation patent portfolio, technology development documentation, and the current test be to a party better able to take the technology to market. Parties interested in acquiring CRR’s on-demand hydrogen generation technology should contact Mark Roberts at firstname.lastname@example.org.