A simple, low-cost, and robust system to measure the volume of hydrogen evolved by chemical reactions with aqueous solutions

There is a growing research interest in the development of portable systems which can deliver hydrogen on-demand to proton exchange membrane (PEM) hydrogen fuel cells. Researchers seeking to develop such systems require a method of measuring the generated hydrogen. Herein, we describe a simple, low-cost, and robust method to measure the hydrogen generated from the reaction of solids with aqueous solutions. The reactions are conducted in a conventional one-necked round-bottomed flask placed in a temperature controlled water bath. The hydrogen generated from the reaction in the flask is channeled through tubing into a water-filled inverted measuring cylinder. The water displaced from the measuring cylinder by the incoming gas is diverted into a beaker on a balance. The balance is connected to a computer, and the change in the mass reading of the balance over time is recorded using data collection and spreadsheet software programs. The data can then be approximately corrected for water vapor using the method described herein, and parameters such as the total hydrogen yield, the hydrogen generation rate, and the induction period can also be deduced. The size of the measuring cylinder and the resolution of the balance can be changed to adapt the setup to different hydrogen volumes and flow rates.