At the invitation of curator Mare van Koningsveld and CBK Groningen I made a hydrogen powered sculpture for the Groningen Cultural Ambassy in Leeuwarden as part of the exhibition Water Waterstof. While working on the piece I found out that it is actually quite challenging to generate workable energy by just using consumer grade electronics. That’s when I noticed a certain text in my spamfilter..
Technically the main part of the sculpture is this energy converter. Bij running electricity through distilled water inside the converter it is possible to separate the water into hydrogen gas (the left glass tube marked H2) and oxygen gas (the right glass tube marked O2). By using electricity to make hydrogen gas you are basically storing this energy using water.
With this switch you control the energy converter. When it is pushed to the left you allow solar cells (see picture below) to charge the energy converter. When you push it to the right you release the energy from the hydrogen gas, the electricity coming from the hydrogen turns on the little motor that makes the handsawn text turn around. When the button is in ‘neutral’ the energy converter is turned off.
What is really amazing about hydrogen is that you can reuse the destilled water over and over. The only loss you have is because of evaporation. That’s why you need to add a few drops of new water every two days (hence the pipette).