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New material designed for hydrogen storage


March 15, 2011

A scientific team including Christian Kisielowski, Anne Ruminski, Rizia Bardhan and Jeff Urban has developed a new nanocomposite for high-capacity hydrogen storage (Photo: Roy Kaltschmidt, Berkeley Lab Public Affairs)

A scientific team including Christian Kisielowski, Anne Ruminski, Rizia Bardhan and Jeff Urban has developed a new nanocomposite for high-capacity hydrogen storage (Photo: Roy Kaltschmidt, Berkeley Lab Public Affairs)

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Scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have created a composite material that they claim can store hydrogen densely and safely, yet that also allows it to be easily accessed for creating electricity. Some materials that are currently used for hydrogen storage have a relatively small capacity, and need to be superheated or supercooled in order to work at peak efficiency. The new material, however, is said not to have either of these limitations.

The Berkeley Lab researchers created the pliable nanocomposite from a matrix of polymethyl methacrylate, which is a polymer related to Plexiglas, with nanoparticles of magnesium sprinkled throughout. It reportedly is able to absorb and release hydrogen at "modest temperatures," without oxidizing the magnesium after cycling.

To confirm that hydrogen was present within the magnesium, the researchers observed the nanoparticles through the world's most powerful transmission electron microscope, the TEAM 0.5 – also located at Berkeley Lab.

"This work showcases our ability to design composite nanoscale materials that overcome fundamental thermodynamic and kinetic barriers to realize a materials combination that has been very elusive historically," said Jeff Urban, Deputy Director of the Inorganic Nanostructures Facility at Berkeley Lab's Molecular Foundry. "Moreover, we are able to productively leverage the unique properties of both the polymer and nanoparticle in this new composite material, which may have broad applicability to related problems in other areas of energy research."

The team's findings were recently published in the journal Nature Materials.

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

So what does this mean?


I remember hearing recently the Lincoln quote, \"the best way to predict the future is to create it.\" Guys, you are doing that. With this type of tech and better, cheaper PV panels, every house can store it\'s own base-load power source.


Hey OPEC...incoming technology leap at two-o-clock - kiss your windfall profits goodbye. How does it feel to be in the buggy whips business?


please god let it be soon....then we can kiss oil and ME dependency goodbye...lock the door and throw the key in the sea :)

Mark Fitzgibbon

a new storage method for hydrogen is needed to reduce the cost and danger of h2 stored at 10,000 psi but it will not end the dominance of oil and gas companies as currently 95% of all h2 comes from natural gas.


yeah but what if it came from solar energy. this might be a better solution for those who have solar power systems and who use batteries to store the energy, which is a drag because batteries suck. maybe one could use solar power to electrolyse water and get hydrogen and might be able to store much greater quantities of energy for much longer periods that way. or maybe it would work for submarines cause they use lots of batteries too


For Wavetop: H2 comes from H2O but so what if it came from CH4. That one carbon atom sequesters two H2 molecules. We do need some CO2 in the atmosphere for plant growth. CH4 can be stored as a clathrate at reasonable temperatures and pressures. Natual gas (CH4 odorant) is already widely distributed for home heating; is in plentiful supply at low prices; can be easily converted to pure H2 for fuel cell use or to other hydrocarbons without producing CO2; and is an immediate cure for H2, solar, and wind insanity evidenced here.


qwester...making H2 from natural gas DOES produce CO2.

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