Super Rich Hydrogen Storage Nanomaterials with Intermediate Bond Strength
The quest for vehicles powered by alternative sources of fuel such as hydrogen has led to an explosion of research into new materials for storing and releasing hydrogen. Currently, one of the main challenges in the large scale development of hydrogen as a fuel is that a convenient and economical storage system does not exist.
Hydrogen storage technologies face a number of key challenges: 1) they must be able to store enough hydrogen for a vehicle to have a reasonable driving range; 2) they must be sufficiently light and compact so as not to change the efficiency of the vehicle; and 3) they must be economical to provide a motivation for switching from gasoline. Once these challenges are overcome, hydrogen fuel technologies could quickly become adopted into the mainstream marketplace.
The present invention is particularly exciting because it demonstrates a significant step forward in the development of an efficient hydrogen storage material. University of Virginia physicists Adam Phillips and Prof. Bellave Shivaram have discovered a new class of carbon-based materials capable of absorbing hydrogen up to 14 weight percent at room temperature. This capacity is far above the 6% threshold for commercial viability established by the US Department of Energy. Unlike previously described carbon-based materials for hydrogen storage, these materials do not require very low temperatures or high pressures to achieve their maximum hydrogen absorption capability making them more economically feasible for consideration as storage materials. In addition, these materials also show several other advantages:
• Materials absorb 2/3 of maximum hydrogen content within 2 minutes
• Significantly higher hydrogen absorption compared to other carbon-based materials (which typically absorb only a few weight percent hydrogen compared to 14 percent seen in these materials)
• Relatively inexpensive starting material
• Wide range of applications from home fuel storage to vehicle fuel cells
The inventors hypothesize that these new materials possess intermediate bond energies that lie between the ranges seen in chemically absorbed hydrogen and physically adsorbed hydrogen. They are currently exploring the rate of hydrogen release from the new material and expect to report their additional findings soon.
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