My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: 2017

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Friday, August 18, 2017

How MSTEM's Solar for USF Community Access Points can Recycle Jamaican Plastic and Styrofoam

“We made a decision that… all sites must have, as a critical component, solar solutions. This is important in order to remove that burden… of the high cost of (electricity) from the communities,”

Science, Energy and Technology Minister Dr Andrew Wheatley commenting on the CAP (Community Access Points)

The Government of Jamaica is moving to make CAP (Community Access Points) literally be self-powered. This as they've thrown Solar Power into the mix.

Science, Energy and Technology Minister Dr Andrew Wheatley has decided to go solar for some 250 CAPS as reported in the article  “Solar Systems for Community Access Points”, published April 19, 2017 by Alecia Smith, The Jamaica Information Service

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This latest bit of news on the USF (Universal Service Fund) pet project popped out on Thursday August 10th, 2017 during the official opening of the $3.5-million Annotto Bay computer resource centre in St Mary. It was also the launch of the 256th CAP facility in Annotto Bay, the seventh overall in St Mary.

It seems that 70 of the 250 were operating inefficiently according to their 2016 audit of the CAPs as noted in “Community access points to be powered by solar energy”, published Friday, August 11, 2017, The Jamaica Observer.

No surprise to me; Wi-Fi does use a LOT of power.

While the Government is at it, they might want to consider making the CAP's in collection points for Plastic Bottles and Styrofoam for recycling.

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This can be done in exchange for longer time on the internet as a means of Paying Jamaicans to recycle as explained in my blog article entitled “How JA$100 for recycling 500ml Plastic bottles and Styrofoam Ban will save Jamaica's Environment”.

So in one fell swoop, 2 problems can be solved; inefficient CAP and recycling Plastic Bottles and Styrofoam!!!


Thursday, August 17, 2017

How ATLAS Scientists use CERN LHC to make Photons collide from Lead Nuclei

“This is a very basic process. It’s never been observed before, and here it is finally emerging from the data”

Theoretical physicist John Ellis of King’s College London commenting on the discovery by CERN

Looks like it the month for massless particles to interact. This time the latest discover comes to us thanks to CERN, host of the LHC (Large Hadron Collider).

Researchers with the ATLAS experiment at the LHC reported that photons do bump into each other as reported in the article “Normally aloof particles of light seen ricocheting off each other”, published August 14 2017 by Emily Conover, Science News.

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ATLAS Researchers published their results in August 14th 2017 in Nature Physics. The discovery is a huge achievement for the ATLAS Scientists, as it proves that light does collide with itself at high -energies to quote  of the ATLAS Physics Coordinator and Physicist from the University of Sheffield, Dr. Dan Tovey: “This is a milestone result: the first direct evidence of light interacting with itself at high energy. This phenomenon is impossible in classical theories of electromagnetism; hence this result provides a sensitive test of our understanding of QED, the quantum theory of electromagnetism”

 Photon scattering is extremely rare and difficult to spot. However, Photons with more energy interact more often, providing additional chances to spot scattering. Enter the LHC.

ATLAS Scientists make Photons collide - How Heavy Lead reveals Light Collisions

A quick primer on the quantum mechanics of photons.


This process is called pair-production and is the result of ultra-peripheral collisions in the otherwise empty space of the LHC as pointed out in “ATLAS observes direct evidence of light-by-light scattering”, published August 15, 2017 by Katarina Anthony, Physorg.

According to quantum mechanics, photons can briefly transform into transient pairs of electrically charged particles and antiparticles.  This is extremely important in high energy physics, as the result is an electron and a positron, as predicted by the Feynman diagram shown below.


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This stage lasts for an extremely short space of time before reverting back to photons. it is this transition that has been of great interest for years to heavy-ion and high-energy physics communities as pointed out by ATLAS Heavy Ion Physics Group Convener of the Brookhaven National Laboratory, Peter Steinberg, quote: “This measurement has been of great interest to the heavy-ion and high-energy physics communities for several years, as calculations from several groups showed that we might achieve a significant signal by studying lead-ion collisions in Run 2”.

Photons have no electric charge, they shouldn’t notice one another’s presence. As they are massless, however, they would require a high amount of energy to make them interact and ricochet away from one another. The ATLAS scientists used CERN's LHC to accelerate Lead (Pb) nuclei and smash them together.

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The strong electromagnetic fields created by the massive nuclei would trap any photons produced and beam scattering could be observed. This took a lot of data gathering, as the scientists were looking for only two (2) photons that collided and scattered away. This means spotting only two photons  in their enormous, highly sensitive particle detector, and accounting for every possible particle produced during the collision.


Using a process of elimination and calculating probable paths, the researchers found 13 such events over 19 days of data collection.  The predictions agree with the standard model, physicists’ theory of particle physics, but more research is needed, as potentially, this soup of Pb nuclei fragments could hint at the existence of new, undiscovered particles.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

How JPS Co Hybrid Storage Plant Prevents Islandwide Outages as Solar Power usage increases

“The innovation will help to secure grid stability and reliability in the face of increasing intermittent renewable energy. The energy storage solution will have power readily available in the event that solar and wind renewable systems, suddenly lose power due to cloud cover, reduced wind or other interruptions”

JPS Co in a Press Release on their 24.5MW Hybrid Battery Power Storage facility

JPS Co has finally seen the light as it relates to preventing islandwide power outages. This may involve doing something never before done in Jamaica or anywhere else for that matter; Store Electricity.


JPS Co has declared their intention to build a 24.5-megawatt Hybrid Battery Power Storage facility to store electricity as reported in the article “JPS Plans Storage Facility To Reduce Power Outages”, published Sunday June 18, 2017 by Steven Jackson, The Jamaica Gleaner

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The OUR (Office of Utilities Regulation) still has to approve the facility even as the JPS board of directors have committed to building the power storage facility as declared in their Press Release on their website titled “JPS Board Approves Ground Breaking Energy Solution for Jamaica”, published June 19, 2017, JPS Co.

No cost was disclosed, but construction on the facility will start in the Third Quarter of 2018 and is a part of their move to save costs by making power generation more efficient as reported in the article “JPS To Spend US$100 Million To Reduce Energy Costs”, Published Sunday July 30, 2017 7:00 by Steven Jackson, The Jamaica Gleaner.

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This 24.5MW facility, which will be located at the Hunts Bay Power Plant Substation, will consist of the following Hybrid storage elements:

1.      High-speed flywheels
2.      Low-speed flywheels
3.      Containerized Li-Ion batteries

To put this latest development into perspective, last December 2016 outgoing JPS Co president Kelly Tomblin described Jamaica’s power consumption as one of the highest in Latin America and the Caribbean. She indicated that such inefficient use of energy constrains Jamaica's growth; saving some of that excess generated power is a necessary part of making electricity rates cheaper in Jamaica.

Jamaica has some interesting power Statistics based on the Ministry of Science Energy & Technology:

1.      4,800 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per US$1,000 of gross domestic product
2.      80MW of renewables added in 2016
3.      100MW of renewable to be added in 2017
4.      US$18 million (J$2.3 billion) in oil imports saved thanks to renewable energy projects
5.      800,000 metric tonnes in toxic carbon emissions

Jamaica ranks 92nd in the World Economic Forum's Global Energy Architecture Performance Index Report 2017. In 2016, we also progressed in our use of Renewables:

1.      24MW of renewable capacity added by Wigton Wind Farm III
2.      36.3MW of renewable capacity added by BMR Windfarm
3.      20MW of renewable capacity added by WRB Content Solar

 So how does JPS Co Hybrid storage work? And why is this needed anyway?


JPS Co Battery Storage - Battery Storage to prevent Islandwide Power Grid Shutdown

The idea is that 24.5MW of electrical power will be converted to kinetic energy and chemical energy via the flywheels and Li-Ion batteries respectively.

Then during periods of low power output from renewables i.e. solar power and Wind Power, the 24.5MW Hybrid storage can convert that kinetic energy and chemical energy into electricity on demand. 

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It also has the advantage of protecting the Power Grid from sudden drops in load, the main reason why Jamaica was experiencing islandwide power outage as explained my MICO Wars Blog article entitled “JPS Co’s Islandwide outage due to Jamaicans turning off their Breakers simultaneously”. 

This happens because more Jamaicans are using Solar Power to power their homes with Battery Storage for the night time period. Usually, at peak time Jamaicans start using power at their homes between 6.30 p.m. to 9.30 p.m. This excess power demand, referred to as Peak energy, represents a leisure peak, rather than an economic development peak, as people are at homes watching TV, ironing and using their refrigerator more often.

However, with Solar and Wind Power and Battery Storage in the mix, there is a lower demand for JPS Co generated Power. This means that a lot of the electricity generated by JPS Co has nowhere to go, as there is no longer that huge demand for Power. So rather than shutdown Generators or cause the Protection System to trip in and cause an islandwide black out due to low load levels, JPS has opted to store that excess generated Electricity.

The arguement that solar plants reduce power generation just as the peak period starts is false; it's really the battery storage usage by Jamaican homeowners that causes the reduction, not the lack of sunlight or wind, as Jamaicans can float on Battery power until the morning when the sun rises and wind begins to blow anew.

So how does this benefit the JPS Co, seeing as more people are using Alternative Energy?

JPS Co and Renewables - Preventing Islandwide Outages and Finding new usage for Power

For one, it'll salvage their already their reputation as relates to the stability of their Electricity Grid.

After the last islandwide power outage on Saturday August 27th 2017 as reported in “Islandwide Power Blackout, JPS Says It Is Working To Restore Electricity” published August 27 2016 by Livern Barrett, The Jamaica Gleaner, JPS Co had to make sure it didn't happen again.

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They eventually concluded that there was a flaw in their operating procedures as well as in the Protection system, which is designed to protect Generators from power surges due to load shedding events as noted in “Protection Failure – JPS Says System Flaw Caused Islandwide Blackout”, published August 30 2016 by Poyser, The Jamaica Gleaner.

These load shedding events occur usually after a massive, sudden drop in power usage by Jamaicans e.g. if a major transmission pole gets cut or during a hurricane. It also occurs in situations where everyone simultaneously shuts off their breakers, a phenomenon cause mainly by more customers using Solar and Wind turbine to generate their own electricity and use battery backup.

The storage facility would, therefore, store power during peak periods when power would usually spike.....but doesn’t because of the increase used of Alternative Energy. JPS Co is going LNG in a bid to reduce the cost of electricity and make themselves competitive via using cheaper LNG (Liquid Natural Gas).

This is thanks to New Fortress, a US based company with plans to supply Jamaica with LNG via a marine terminal and pipeline within the Portland Bight area or close to the Goat Islands as noted in the article “JPS Sees Positive Outcome From Softbank Acquisition Of Fortress Group”, Published Sunday February 19, 2017 by Steven Jackson, The Jamaica Gleaner.

Included in this mix may be 115MW of renewables from solar and wind farm developements. Still, this means that JPS will have to find extra usages for their generated electricity, no matter how cheap it may be. 

Such potentially lower costs may not only jump-start MSME (Micro small and Medium Enterprises) that can't afford large solar installations, but may also herald the coming of All-Electric Vehicles with Tesla Motors installing the Charging Stations here as predicted in my blog article entitled “JPSCo US$5 million Smart Grid and Tesla Motors Battery Storage Tech Fixes Low Power Periods”.   

Coupled with Smart Meters Prepaid PAYG Rollout, we may be looking at the slow development of a Hydrogen-Electron Economy in Jamaica by 2050.


Monday, August 14, 2017

RADA says more young Jamaicans pursuing Farming - Agricultural Towers and Robotics

“There is no truth that young people are no longer interested in farming. The universities, they are now seeing tremendous business opportunities in the agricultural sector and the good thing is, we have a number of government-funded programmes that are now able to facilitate and support persons who wish to pursue these areas”

Executive Director of the Jamaica 4-H Clubs, Dr Ronald Blake, following the 65th annual staging of the Denbigh Agricultural show in Clarendon

Farming in Jamaica may be seeing an infusion of young people fascinated by growing plants and animals.

So says Dr Ronald Blake, executive director of the Jamaica 4-H Clubs who says interest in farming is on the rise among the young as reported in the article “Bright Future For Farming - Sector Reports 40 Per Cent Increase In Youth Training”, published Wednesday August 9, 2017 by Jodi-Ann Gilpin, The Jamaica Gleaner

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First watch this video of Denbigh Agricultural Show 2017.


Dr Ronald Blake, who spoke at the Denbigh Agricultural Show 2017 backed up his statement with stats from RADA:

1.      40% increase in the number of youth being trained in areas of agriculture
2.      8% per annum growth in the 4-H movement

More educated persons are entering the farming sector based on data from RADA (Rural Agricultural Development Authority) as noted by Dr Ronald Blake: “This is data that we have derived from the Rural Agricultural Development Authority database, as well as the agricultural census. We are also seeing where the farming population of Jamaica is becoming more educated and that's because more and more youth are entering the profession, and these young people have at least a secondary education”.

Dr Ronald Blake and RADA Stats – Younger Farmers attracted by Technology in farming

This also means that the average age of farmers is trending down from 60 years old as more educated young people enter the field.

So says Dr Ronald Blake, quote: “We have seen an incremental increase in the number of farmers with tertiary training. But the macro indicator is the fact that the average age of the Jamaican farmer is no longer 60 years old. Based on the 4-H initiative, we are able to pull that down and we are now at 47. 8 per cent (of the 60-year-old age group). It is among the lowest in the world”.

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More young people are entering the field due to the exciting and new advances for the agricultural sector such as Vertical Farming, the use of Agricultural Towers and Robotics to take the labour out of farming as explained in my blog article entitled “How Australia's University of Sydney Livestock Farmbot heralds Efficient Agricultural Towers”.

Farming is now being seen as a viable economic option for youth; improvement in business and entrepreneurial options in the last three years makes the field potentially a huge money earner for unemployed youth with land inherited from grand-parents.

Noteworthy too, is the improvement in the use of technological innovations such as drones as described in my blog article entitled “Why Agrocaelum and Hi-Pro Herald for JCAA allowing Drone Racing in Jamaica”. 

More high school students are pursuing Farming up to the Tertiary level at CASE (College of Agriculture, Science and Education) a direct indicator of this increased interest in farming to quote Dr Ronald Blake:  “The 4-H movement is growing by about eight per cent per year. What we have seen in terms of opting for agriculture at the tertiary level, is a 40 per cent increase and this is attributed to enrolment at CASE (College of Agriculture, Science and Education). What we have also seen is the constant increase, over the last three years, in the number of young people entering farming”.


Interesting to see what innovative farming techniques the next set of Farmers will utilize to automate Farming, be it robotics or Agricultural Towers made from old buildings!!!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

How to reset Canon Pixma MG 2522 Printer Cartridge Ink Level Monitoring

Refilling a Canon Pixma MG 2522 Printer cartridge is no easy task. Aside from ink spills, you also have to contend with something else; Printer memory.

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After you have installed you printer ink cartridge, you may notice it give you this error message saying that the ink levels is still low.  The indicator light for the empty ink cartridge may still be blinking as well.

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This is because you need to reset the Canon Pixma MG 2522 Printer cartridge by pressing and holding the Stop button for 10 seconds as shown below on my printer.

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This is to reset the Ink level monitoring reset as explained in the video below.


Once that is done, power down the printer and the computer and restart printing.

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Your printer will still show the printer cartridge as being empty, but it will allow you to continue printing so long as the cartridge itself is not damaged. Also the lights will still be blinking; ignore that as that Canon’s way of wanting to get you to spend more money on ink!!

Sharing is caring so share this with all of your friends!!!




Tuesday, August 8, 2017

University of Auckland discover meningitis B vaccine protect against gonorrhoea

“This is the first time a vaccine has shown any protection against gonorrhoea. At the moment, the mechanism behind this immune response is unknown, but our findings could inform future vaccine development”

Dr Helen Petousis-Harris, one of the researchers from the University of Auckland who discovered the gonorrhoea vaccine

Finally, some hope for gonorrhoea sufferers. Even better, it was something we had all along.
Researchers at the University of Auckland have developed a vaccine against gonorrhoea as announced back in July 2017 in the article “First vaccine shows gonorrhoea protection”, published 11 July 2017 by James Gallagher, BBC News.

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In a study published in Lancet, the researchers discovered that young people who had been given a vaccine called MeNZB to combat meningitis B showed immunity to gonorrhoea. Their study involved analyzing data from some 15,000 young people who had visited sexual health clinics in New Zealand between 2004 and 2006.



The researchers discovered that the gonorrhoea cases had fallen 31% in those vaccinated. Interestingly too, protection seemed to last about two (2) years. So why is this so important?

WHO and “super-gonorrhoea” - CRISPR-Cas9 on the horizon but vaccine needed now

The WHO sees the developement of a vaccine as vital in stopping the global spread of “super-gonorrhoea”. This developement is incredibly important, as the WHO (World Health Organization) is worried about the fact that gonorrhoea is currently untreatable with the antibiotics that are currently available.

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Gonorrhoea infects 78 million people each year, and can cause infertility. Also we have no natural immunity to the bacterium, no matter how many times we contract the disease. Eventually CRISPR-Cas9 may soon be employed to make tailor made cocktails to stop the disease in its tracks, as shown below, but this is a long way off.



So this is a huge developement as pointed out by fellow researcher Prof Steven Black, from Cincinnati Children's Hospital in the US: “The potential ability of a group B meningococcal vaccine to provide even moderate protection against gonorrhoea would have substantial public health benefits”

So why does a vaccine made for meningitis B protects against gonorrhoea? And how can it be used to fight the global spread of “super-gonorrhoea”.

University of Auckland and gonorrhoea vaccine - Neisseria gonorrhoeae and Neisseria gonorrhoeae are cousins

The disease is caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae. It is spread by unprotected sex.

1.      Symptoms can include:
2.      Thick green or yellow discharge from sexual organs
3.      Pain when urinating
4.      Bleeding between periods

Untreated infection can lead to:

1.      Infertility
2.      Pelvic inflammatory disease
3.      Disease being passed on to a child during pregnancy

Unfortunately, gonorrhoea is a silent epidemic, as 10% heterosexual men and 75% women and gay men have no easily recognizable symptoms. Gargling with Listerine may hay stop the spread among homosexuals and those who practice oral sex as noted in my blog article entitled “How Australian National Health and Medical Research Council discovered that Listerine kills Gonorrhea” but that isn’t prevention and neither it is guaranteed to work.

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Enter a new hope with this discovery that the meningitis B vaccine, MeNZB, grants immunity to gonorrhoea. Turns out that the bacterium that causes meningitis, Neisseria meningitidis, is a cousin of the species that causes gonorrhoea, Neisseria gonorrhoeae!

Why researcher never spotted this before is quite amazing really. Then again, must treatments are tailored to be specific. 

It’s good to note that this was discovered accidentally via a statistical survey. Even more interesting is that the UK is the only country in the world that routinely immunizes children with MeNZB which is no longer available.

Component of the old vaccine MeNZB are to be found in the new meningitis B vaccine called 4CMenB. Albeit not a vaccine, this points researcher in the right direction to developing one tailor made for Neisseria meningitidis cousin, Neisseria gonorrhoeae to quote Dr Teodora Wi, from the WHO: “There are high hopes that now there's going to be some cross-protection. We are still a long way before we develop a vaccine for gonorrhoea, but we have now some evidence that it is possible”.

This may be the first step in preventing people developing a gonorrhoea infection, especially as gonorrhoea is getting harder to treat and has no clearly visible symptoms in the early stages.



Monday, August 7, 2017

Digicel seeks OTT and Ad Revenue and Why Boosting Postpaid Sales is the Answer

Telecom Providers are seeking to generate more revenue in the countries they operate. This as most of them tend to be heavy on Prepaid Customer and not postpaid

So they want a greater share of OTT and Advertising sales as pointed out by Digicel’s Chairman, Denis O’Brien in the article “Digicel Wants Telecoms To Get A Share Of Internet Revenues”, published Saturday July 22, 2017, The Jamaica Gleaner

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Denis O’Brien made these comments while speaking at the 17th Global Symposium for Regulators in Nassau, Bahamas in early July 2017. Regulators from over 60 countries were in the audience, so his message was clearly pitched towards them.

His view is that telecoms operators need to be given a share of revenues from advertising and over-the-top (OTT) services. OTT is streaming video and audio content such that Netflix that bypasses cable or satellite operators.

His idea is that tapping into the extra markets can fund further expansion of broadband networks in developing countries. After all, the purchase of telecoms licenses, paying for spectrum and then having to pay taxes as a percentage of revenues reduces the funds available to expand as rapidly as they would want to satisfy demand.

But is this the way to go?

Digicel want OTT and Advertising Money - International Regulators might take the bait

It may just be, actually.

Were the International Regulators to allow Telecom Providers to tap into OTT and Advertising, this would be a game-changer for Digicel and FLOW. It could make their 4G LTE Networks profitable, especially FLOW's soon-to-be-launched LTE Network as hinted in my Geezam blog article entitled “FLOW Lyf Increased Free Data for Prepaid & Postpaid heralds Unlimited LTE”.

It would also justify future investments in faster technologies such as 5G which CWC is already testing in Barbuda as noted in my Geezam blog article entitled “CWC first Caribbean LTE-A Pro trial in Antigua heralds 2 to 5 Gbps 5G Networks”.

If this appeal sits well with regional government, we may see streaming of Digicel Play content and Digicel advertisements in our apps.

Revenue from ads and OTT – Focus on Postpaid Sales needed to push new ventures

So Digicel interest in making money from online advertising on phones in the region may be a part of a long-term plan that goes beyond more than just building out bigger Telecom Networks.

It may be the first signs of them transitioning away from being a Mobile company to an Internet based company, building revenue on apps and content rather than just providing service as explained my Geezam blog article entitled “Why Digicel More may woo Jamaican Developers with Advertising partnerships”.

Already Telecom Provider Digicel had blocked Advertising from Search giant Google as reported in my Geezam blog article entitled “Why Digicel blocking Google ads may be the rise of Digicel App World”. 

As for making more money from OTT, it would help their Digicel Play Network to expand beyond the Caribbean, as they could launch in countries around the world, increasing their current numbers as noted in my Geezam blog article entitled “Digicel Play has 35,000 customers as FLOW Jamaica Horizon fails to impress”.

Still, both Telecom Providers need to boost sales for Postpaid services on Mobile, which is non-existent in both companies. If there is no love for Postpaid services, then they will have little uptake for Postpaid OTT services and advertising in app, especially as Jamaicans and Caribbean Nationals hardly download apps anyway. 

Focus on Sales to boost Postpaid services, and everything else will fall into place.




Sunday, August 6, 2017

How US Army Research Laboratory made nano-aluminium alloy that produces Hydrogen from Water

Hydrogen is the fuel of the future. But to produce Hydrogen has required Electrolysis, which means power, be it from fossil fuels or Solar power, has to be used to make Hydrogen, adding to the cost of this wonder fuel.

So it's quite interesting to note the discovery by US Army Research Laboratory at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland in January 2017 of an aluminium alloy that reacts with water and produces Hydrogen gas as reported in the article “Nano aluminium offers fuel cells on demand – just add water”, published 3 August 2017, By David Hambling, New Scientist

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The discovery was made by US Army Research Laboratory at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland while testing a new, high-strength aluminium alloy. When water was added to the material during routine testing, it started bubbleing and gave of a gas. This gas proved to be Hydrogen.

The accidental discovery of what is effectively a Hydrogen-producing metal catalyst in the form of this aluminium alloy may be the first step to reviving the struggling hydrogen economy as pointed out in my blog article entitled “Whither the Hydrogen Economy for Jamaica”.

It could potentially make Hydrogen Fuel cells portable, providing an alternative to Li-Ion batteries and liquid fuels. For us Jamaicans is could mean Hydrogen replacing LPG Cooking Gas by improving on the research done by UTECH as noted in my blog article entitled “UTECH and Hydrogen as Cooking Gas – How Hydride Salts make Hydrogen Cooking Gas and Fuel Cells possible”. 

So how did the US Army Research Laboratory make this aluiminium alloy?

US Army Research Laboratory and Hydrogen - Aluminium Alloy Just a Bubble with Hydrogen

First thing for my chemistry students, aluminum doesn't normally react like this.

It usually reacts in the presence of Oxygen to produce an oxide coat that prevents further reaction as follows:

Al(s) + O2(g) → Al2O3(s)

When aluminium powder is reacted with water it also liberates Hydrogen from Water, producing Aluminum Hydroxide Al2(OH)6 as a byproduct.

2Al(s) + 6H2O(l) → Al2(OH)6(s) + 3H2(g)

Good to note that aluminum doesn’t react readily with water due to its protective oxide coat; energy, such as via heating with a Bunsen burner, has to be added to coax the reaction to occur.

Also the use of a proton donor, such as an acid or a base, a proton acceptor, can be used to accelerate the reaction, as pointed out in the video below.


However, a third method, not often discussed in most chemistry classes, involves increasing the surface area of the aluminium and breaking up the protective oxide coat. By simply making the
 Aluminium into a powdered nanomaterial via special milling processes, you can increase the surface area of the aluminium to make it more reactive i.e. powdered or so-called nanoparticles of aluminium.

Good to note too that Hydrogen gas does evolve (He, Hu, Kang, Li and Zeng, 2013) during the extraction of Aluminium from molten Aluminium Oxide via electrolysis, though Hydrogen gas is treated more as a problem than a solution.


This alloy differs from these examples above as instead of forming a stable oxide or salt that halts the reaction, it just kept reacting. 

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But the reasons are similar; the aluminium in that case is alloyed with other impurities and due to the high temperature, is very reactive. Moreover, the aluminium and its impurities become arranged in regular crystalline patterns thanks to electron flow due to the electrolysis process.

This is the case also with the aluminium alloy US Army Research Laboratory; it’s fused with one or more other metals arranged in a particular nanostructure in a regular pattern, resembling salt crystals.

This is different from how most metals are composed, which is usually of metal cations surrounded by a sea of electrons, with the metal cations randomly arranged. In this case, the aluminum and the other metal making up the alloy are arranged in a lattice structure similar to graphite, thus resulting in each aluminum atom being surrounded by no more than three other metal atoms.

The result is a nano-structure that is continuously reactive to water, as it doesn’t permanently bind to Oxygen, the original intent of the US Army Research Laboratory; a light weight rust proof aluminium alloy. Adding water to this aluminium in such a highly reactive state results in aluminium oxide or hydroxide and hydrogen.

Clearly, you can see where this is going; Hydrogen Fuel cells and Batteries that last forever.

Nano-particles of aluminium - Practical Fuel Cells and a Solution to the Hydrogen Economy

This folks, is basically nano-particles of aluminium in a fixed crystalline lattice structure acting as a catalyst to produce hydrogen.

In my book, this is a big improvement on using Iron and Nickel Oxide electrodes for electrolysis as explained in my blog article entitled “@Stanford University Nickel-Iron Electrolysis Electrodes – How Oxides of Iron and Nickel herald Cheaper Electrodes All-Electric Vehicle
, as the battery has been eliminated from the equation.

Not only that, Water and aluminium are easy to transport and the reaction occurs at room temperature and is 100% efficient as confirmed by team leader for the US Army Research Laboratory Scott Grendahl, quote: “Ours does it to nearly 100 per cent efficiency in less than 3 minutes”.


This means Hydrogen Fuel cells can be designed without having to use Hydride salt to store Hydrogen as explained in my blog article entitled  “Apple files patent for Hydrogen Fuel cell – Why Portable Hydrogen Fuel Cells needed to cut the Analog Power Cord”. 

This process can produce hydrogen as needed. A solution to the transportation problem that has hampered the developement of the Hydrogen Economy, to quote physicist Anit Giri: “The problem with hydrogen is always transportation and pressurisation”.

This may be the miracle breakthrough needed in the Battery tech world as noted by Anthony Kucernak, a fuel cells researcher at Imperial College London, quote: “The important aspect of the approach is that it lets you make very compact systems. That would be very useful for systems which need to be very light or operate for long periods on hydrogen, where the use of hydrogen stored in a cylinder is prohibitive.”

Batteries lighter than the current Li-Ion and with higher power densities is possible, remaining stable for longer periods of time. Best of all, it could be used as a mean of recycling aluminium, as the nano-structure aluminium alloy can be made from scrap aluminium.

References

He H, Hu Z., Kang M., Li D, Zeng, J. (October 2013). Nanostructure of aluminum oxide inclusion and formation of hydrogen bubbles in molten aluminum. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24245169