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Nanotech to boost solid state hydrogen storage

By

March 9, 2011

Hydrogen has great potential as a clean fuel source for powering our cars and airplanes, but it also poses some big hurdles – namely production, distribution infrastructure and storage. Storing hydrogen in gas or liquid form onboard a vehicle raises difficulties in terms of volume and pressurization – a hydrogen gas tank for a car would need to be around four times larger than current petroleum tanks. Another possible solution is the use of solid state hydrogen and the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company (EADS), along with the University of Glasgow, hope to boost this approach by developing a new storage system using materials modified at the nanoscale that receive and release the hydrogen at a faster rate.

The research collaboration will involve changing the composition and microstructure of the current Hydrisafe hydrogen storage tank. This involves replacing the currently used lanthanum nickel (LaNi5) storage alloy with other hydride materials such as magnesium hydride (MgH2).

It's hoped the research can deliver a storage solution able to feed a fuel cell at the required energy densities required of an aeroplane.

"Using new active nanomaterials in combination with novel storage tank design principles presents a hugely exciting opportunity to address the considerable challenges of introducing hydrogen as a fuel for aviation," says Professor Gregory from the University of Glasgow, School of Chemistry says."

If successful in this research, EADS plans to fly an unmanned hydrogen powered test plane in 2014.

"Replacing traditional hydrocarbon-based fuels with pollution-free hydrogen in aeroplane and car engines would deliver huge benefits to the environment because carbon emissions would be dramatically reduced," says Dr.-Ing. Agata Godula-Jopek, Fuel Cells Expert in the EADS Power Generation Team.

6 Comments

The company, Energy Conversion Devices (ENER), has had solid hydrogen generation and storage for several years. The process, as I understand it, uses nickel metal hydride. They have prototype vehicles too. They're an amazing, yet little-known company.

jailerjay
10th March, 2011 @ 08:05 am PST

Hydrogen is not something you can capture or mine from the environment. It's actually only a storage mechanism. Hydrogen has to be produced, usually at substantial cost by steam reforming. Sure it's clean to burn, but to produce it makes a lot of pollution.

PizzaEater
10th March, 2011 @ 11:04 am PST

PizzaEater is correct that Hydrogen is a storage medium, however, generating hydrogen for use as a fuel does not necessarily require steam reforming. There is a great deal of construction of both wind and solar installations that could use eletroysis of H20 to produce both hydrogen and oxygen. Because both wind and solar electrical generators both are part time sources, production of hydrogen would provide an ideal storage mechanism for use by power plants and vehicles. The relative efficiency of these electrical generators would probably have to be enhanced to make this a widespread source of hydrogen.

shortimer
10th March, 2011 @ 08:28 pm PST

Okay firstly the main thing is batteries are bad. Hence a hydrogen tank seems like a good idea just like a methane tank.

Methane is easy to come by and so cheap you wouldnt believe. Refuse anyone.

Hydrogen is hard to come by and very expensive.

Cars on-road already use and run on methane.

Cars dont use hydrogen at the moment except in non-road car prototypes.

Hydrogen is "a" green way of the future, but the (green) way of the present is methane.

mg
11th March, 2011 @ 03:51 am PST

One of the main problems with pressurized hydrogen or LH storage is hydrogen embrittlement (due to nuclear interaction). If this solves that problem at a reasonable economy (both in portability and price) then it will make hydrogen a reasonable fuel: even more reasonable if some form of fusion becomes a portable solution in the next 50 years.

Charles Bosse
11th March, 2011 @ 09:35 am PST

I produce Hydrogen from water 24hours a day with zero emissions from fossil fuels using the power of the Sun (not photovoltaic) storing it as a solid from a material I made from chickens...... When it comes to H2 you have to think out of the box and this should be the only fuel we use for power.

I also make my own water.

DarthJedi
22nd March, 2011 @ 11:16 am PDT
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