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Hydrogen storage breakthrough

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June 23, 2008

June 24, 2008 Hydrogen offers many benefits as a renewable and sustainable fuel of the future as its combustion emits only water. The main problem to now is that it must be stored as a gas, which is potentially dangerous for everyday use, and it can only be stored as a liquid under cryogenic conditions. Now there may be another alternative. Chemists in the US have developed a simple reaction to make ammonia borane (AB) – a powder more hydrogen-dense than even liquid hydrogen. AB is a stable white powder which releases hydrogen gas upon heating. Its use as a hydrogen storage material has been hampered by difficulties in making the powder in reasonable yield, but the new research further increases its promise.

Chemist Tom Autrey and colleagues from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, US, discovered the “one-pot” method of making AB while studying its decomposition pathways. The group was pleasantly surprised that “under relatively simple reaction conditions the ammonia borane was formed in very high yields.”

The group is researching new designer materials to store hydrogen safely, so that it can be released at will to power a fuel cell. The group is currently looking at scaling up the reaction to an industrial level.

Autrey says the next challenge is to “recycle the solvents to provide the most economical route to synthesise this promising hydrogen storage material.”

Their one-pot synthesis of this promising hydrogen storage material is reported in the first issue of the new Royal Society of Chemistry journal Energy & Environmental Science.

http://www.rsc.org/delivery/_ArticleLinking/DisplayHTMLArticleforfree.cfm?JournalCode=EE&Year;=2008&ManuscriptID;=b808865a&Iss;=Advance_Article

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About the Author
Mike Hanlon Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, Telstra.com.au (Australia's largest Telco), Seek.com.au (Australia's largest employment site), top100.com.au, hitwise.com, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks. All articles by Mike Hanlon
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