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SiGNa Chemistry Demonstrates Sodium Silicate-Based Hydrogen Generation System for Portable Fuel Cells

Prototype sodium silicate hydrogen generation system as presented earlier this year at DOE merit review. Click to enlarge.

SiGNa Chemistry, Inc., a developer of stabilized reactive metals for safer, more efficient industrial chemistry, announced the successful design, assembly, and initial testing of its H300 Hydrogen Generation System. The H300 utilizes real-time swappable cartridges that generate hydrogen on demand using SiGNa’s proprietary sodium silicide (NaSi) powder. (Earlier post.)

At greater than 9% hydrogen by weight, sodium silicide technology produces comparable results to chemical hydride technologies such as ammonia borane or sodium borohydride. However, sodium silicide offers benefits such as safety; high temperature storage stability; no catalyst required; no pre-heat necessary; and instantaneous start-up with near instantaneous off.

Sodium silicides rapidly liberate hydrogen from water (or water solutions) leaving sodium silicate, a benign common industrial chemical.

Sodium-Silica-Gel: 2Na-SG + H2O → H2 + Na2Si2O5

Sodium Silicide: 2NaSi(s) + 5H2O → 5H2(g) + Na2Si2O5(aq)

Schematic and development of the generation unit. Click to enlarge.

The H300 uses two hydrogen canisters that generate more than 800 liters of H2 at a combined flow-rate of up to 4 slpm (standard liters per minute) continuous and 10 slpm peak. This level of continuous hydrogen flow supports a broad range of portable fuel cell applications including back-up power systems, emergency responder work-stations, military battery recharging, and electric bicycles, the company says.

SiGNa has demonstrated hydrogen generation for applications ranging from 1 to 500 Watts.

The H300 features a real-time hydrogen fuel gauge, on-demand hydrogen generation, and rapid canister insertion/removal.

In collaboration with Trulite, Inc., a developer of portable and semi-portable hybrid power systems, SiGNa utilized Trulite’s FCS-300 PEM fuel cell system to demonstrate the technology. The FCS delivers 300 Watts of continuous power and has multiple electrical outputs including: 12 V auto, 12 V military, and 110 VAC.

The US Department of Energy supported the development of the system in a project which began in August 2008 and is due to conclude in January 2010. Total funding in FY08 was $1,845,000, with the DOE contributing $1,476,000; the bulk of that was spent in FY09. Additional funding for FY09 was $951,500, to be spent in FY09/FY10.

In addition to Trulite, the University of Texas Austin Center for Electromechanics has been a research partner.




And what is the efficiency of making NaSi, how much of that energy makes it to hydrogen, and the efficiency of recycling NaSiO5. The Hydrogen economy has gross inefficiencies as is what with 75% efficiency at best for electrolysis, 50% for PEM fuel cells, and now the unknown efficiency of making NaSi, Li Ion batteries can manage charge discharge efficiencies of 95%!


lith ion manages 91% charge and 83% charge discharge but far more importantly h2 systems can run for many more hours or under far greater loads then lith ion systems in such things as uavs and such.

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