Researchers at the Purdue University of Indiana have collaborated with scientists from General Atomics to create a new way to power hydrogen fuel cells. The technology was on display in the Indianapolis State House as part of Purdue Day and visitors were able to see the latest development in solid state hydrogen storage. Purdue claims that their safe and efficient technology will make portable hydrogen fuel cell units much more viable for commercial use.
Researchers have made marble-sized pellets that contain a solid chemical compound that is impregnated with hydrogen gas. When heated, the gas is released from the pellets and can be injected into directly into the fuel cell. P.V. Ramachandran says that this technology has overcome a number of challenges that have plagued the incorporation of hydrogen fuel.
“Hydrogen gas takes up a lot of space,” says Ramachandran. “It is unstable and unsafe to transport. We’ve developed a way to use a very stable and safe compound that can release hydrogen on demand.”
The pellets are being used in small cartridges that are being called “hydrogen batteries.” These batteries can be fitted to fuel cells much the same way batteries are installed in remote controls. Originally, the batteries were commissioned by the U.S. government to replace conventional battery packs with more efficient and environmentally friendly alternatives. The batteries are now being considered for use outside of military use.
Ramachandran will be experimenting in using the batteries as part of the power system for hydrogen fueled vehicles.