In the race for greener fuel, a major roadblock for hydrogen is the need for safer, more economical storage. Researchers in the United Kingdom have discovered a material that could make this possible.
For cars powered by hydrogen gas, the cost and size of storage tanks that can achieve a similar driving range is much greater than those powered by liquid fuels such as petrol.
This means the tanks required by hydrogen-powered vehicles designed to travel long distances without refuelling are prohibitively large and heavy.
Another drawback is that it is difficult to store hydrogen for transport as a potential fuel export.
In the quest for more compact storage, car manufacturers have tried several different tacks.
These have included high pressure tanks, and dropping the temperature for cryogenic storage of liquid hydrogen. But these systems are complex to operate, and have potential safety risks.
Systems that store hydrogen as liquid ammonia or formic acid are also under development.
Professor David Antonelli from Lancaster University has recently discovered a material that he says could allow existing tank sizes to fuel four times their current range.
“The real advantage this brings is in situations where you anticipate being off grid for long periods of time, such as long-haul truck journeys, drones, and robotics. It could also be used to run a house or a remote neighbourhood off a fuel cell,” said Antonelli.
Take the pressure down
A study recently published in Energy & Environmental Science describes how Antonelli used a “molecular sieve” to bind hydrogen, thanks to a chemical process that moves the two molecules further apart without breaking the bond between them. This is known as Kubas binding.
This process is reversible, takes place at room temperature, and uses much lower pressures than existing storage methods.
To compare, the new material stores hydrogen at 120 bar (12 Mpa), which is less than the pressure of a scuba tank. Existing tanks use storage pressures of 700 bar (70 MPa).
The researchers also claim that the material absorbs and stores excess heat, so the tank would not need external cooling or heating.
Molecular sieves made from the material, known as Kubas Manganese Hydride-1 (KMH-1), could be installed inside hydrogen storage tanks onboard vehicles such as cars, trucks and trains. When the storage pressure is dropped, hydrogen could be released to feed a fuel cell and power the vehicle.
Boost over batteries
Antonelli believes the low manufacturing cost and high energy density of his new material will help hydrogen-fuelled cars give electric vehicles a run for their money.
“The cost of manufacturing our material is so low, and the energy density it can store is so much higher than a lithium-ion battery, that we could see hydrogen fuel cell systems that cost five times less than lithium-ion batteries as well as providing a much longer range — potentially enabling journeys up to around four or five times longer between fill-ups,” Antonelli said.
The promising new material has been patented by the University of South Wales and licensed to Kubagen, a company co-owned by Antonelli, with a view to refining and scaling up for commercial applications.
CO2 does not cause undue warming of the atmosphere. As an institution supposedly steeped in science, it is appalling that IE Aust has gone placidly along with this pseudo-science!
I suggest you and your management look at the following and get an education:
Climate Science 1; There is No “Greenhouse Effect”
Climate Science 2; There is No “Extra Warming” to Explain
Climate Science 3; There is No “Greenhouse Effect” on Venus Either
The last one was really interesting to me because it gives all sorts of very interesting data plus amazing photographs from exploratory “landers” on Venus.
I’m sure you will enjoy them and find them most interesting.
As for hydrogen cars, they are an interesting scientific pursuit but they must stand on their own merits, not on the basis that they “reduce emissions”. The world, in fact, needs more CO2 in the atmosphere. Not less!
It’s telling that the previous poster cites YouTube videos as their evidence. Peer reviewed science on the other hand has been pointing in the opposite direction for at least 30 years. It’s time to stop looking for conspiracies and get with the science so cutting CO2 emissions is a plus. As to hydrogen powered vehicles standing on their own merit, Hydrogen power is an excellent fuel and has only being held back by storage issues. Therefore, I find this development very exciting and am looking forward to a speedy coming to market. Thanks for the article.
Interesting article and comparison of technologies
Hydrogen gas is fairly simple to make, and burns very easily, which would make an efficient fuel source, but I don’t think that storage is the BIGGEST issue. Although it is a very large issue, even at 120 bar (which would launch that tank like a missile if it ruptured, that is IF it didn’t combust first). I believe we have forgotten the Hindenburg. I know petrol fumes are extremely flammable, but if a tank on the car has a small leak, it is not under pressure, and typically would be in a vacuum from normal use. Hydrogen would be blowing out of a pin hole with enough force to cut you, and if that gas combusted, would hopefully only turn into a high pressure torch, but once the pressure got low enough, it would eventually make it’s way into that tank and become a bomb if it was not extinguished.
The elephant in the room here is that converting electricity to hydrogen and back to electricity only recovers about 28% of the input energy. Therefore it’s only advantage as a storage medium compared to batteries is rapid refueling, light weight and longevity of components (plus teh ability to use surplus overnight power. The transcontinental train sounds like a good application, similarly I suggested it for the Brisbane Metro to one supplier.
Back in Dietrich Georg’s day that kind of detail would be asked and challenged by investigative reporters. Please can Create Digital recover that kind of investigative reporting with numbers and problems rather than being pop-sci clickbait for teenagers.