Hydrogen fuel storage problems may be put to restAugust 17, 2012
Storage issues limit the use of hydrogen fuel
Though hydrogen fuel has yet to show signs of slowing down in terms of popularity, its use remains limited due to the several challenges it faces. One of the most significant of these challenges is the issue of storage. There are several ways to store hydrogen, but most of these methods require that it be contained under high amounts of pressure and kept very cool through processes that are both energy intensive and quite expensive. Engineers from the University of New South Wales in Australia have demonstrated a storage method that could solve the storage problems hydrogen fuel faces.
Researchers develop nanostructure using sodium borohydride
Scientists from the Materials Energy Research Laboratory (MERLin) in the University of New South Wales have synthesized nanoparticles from a chemical compound known as sodium borohydride. The compound is often given little attention because its primary purpose is to enable to production of sodium dithionite, a bleaching agent. Researchers have been able to replicate the nanoparticles of the compound and encase them in a nickel shell, creating a nanostructure that is capable of hydrogen storage and release.
Nanostructure proves capable of efficient storage, release, and re-absorption of hydorgen
This is the first time this method has ever been attempted in the world and MERLin researchers have demonstrated a degree of success. The nanostructure is capable of absorbing and containing hydrogen at relatively low temperatures and pressures. This immediately makes the nanostructure attractive as a solution to the storage problem. The nanostructure can also release its stored hydrogen fuel quickly without excessive use of energy or heat. It was previously though that sodium borohydride would be an inadequate form of storage for hydrogen fuel because once the hydrogen was released it could not be reabsorbed. MERLin researchers have proved that the compound can, indeed, re-absorb hydrogen.
Hydrogen fuel storage problems may have been solved
If the nanostructure can be manipulated efficiently, it could be used as a storage tool for hydrogen projects of varying sizes. By solving the storage problem, researchers may have made hydrogen fuel a more viable energy option for numerous industries. The fuel has already managed to garner a great deal of popularity through its energy production merits, but storage has kept its use limited. MERLin researchers may have changed that.
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