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Old 05-29-2014, 03:23 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Hydrogen generator from the Cival war

I was watching a program that touched on balloon warfare and mentioned the use of hydrogen generators to create hydrogen gas for the balloons lift.

Which got me thinking maybe we could use this technology today to make home fill gas stations or possible a on board hydrogen generator.





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from wiki on balloon warfare:

Quote - a compact system of tanks and copper plumbing, were constructed which converted the combining of iron filings and sulfuric acid into hydrogen -

in context -
The first major-scale use of balloons in the military occurred during the American Civil War with the Union Army Balloon Corps established and organized by Prof. Thaddeus S. C. Lowe in the summer of 1861. Originally, the balloons were inflated with coal gas from municipal services and then walked out to the battlefield, an arduous and inefficient operation as the balloons had to be returned to the city every four days for re-inflation. Eventually hydrogen gas generators, a compact system of tanks and copper plumbing, were constructed which converted the combining of iron filings and sulfuric acid to hydrogen. The generators were easily transported with the uninflated balloons to the field on a standard buckboard. However, this method shortened the life of the balloons, because traces of the sulfuric acid often entered the balloons along with the hydrogen.[2] In all, Lowe built seven balloons that were fit for military service.

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Old 05-31-2014, 11:25 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I'd rather not have too much sulphuric acid in the car.
Nor enough H2 to make much of a difference on the fuel consumption.

Essentially, they're describing an acid battery.
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Old 05-31-2014, 09:17 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Although the generator and balloon were transported on a buckboard, the heavy pile of iron filings and gallons of sulfuric acid were transported on separate wagons for safety. This hydrogen generator is a large scale version of what you did in chemistry lab when you dropped iron filings into a test tube of sulfuric acid and watched the hydrogen bubbles rise to the surface.
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Old 06-09-2014, 04:28 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Keep in mind that the reagents of this reaction are expended and you have to dispose of the mess afterwards. Chemical transportation and environmental laws are much stricter than they were in the Civil war too.

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