Nanotechnology may hold the key to hydrogen’s future

Nanotechnology may hold the key to hydrogen’s future

August 9, 2012 0 By John Max

Work to solve hydrogen’s problems begins directing focus to nanotechnology

Hydrogen fuel is growing in popularity all over the world but its progress is still being held back by problems concerning efficient storage and infrastructure. Researchers from various institutions have been working to address these issues and many have been met with mixed results. Those that have conducted experiments in the field of nanotechnology suggest that the technology could hold the key to solving the issues inhibiting the progress of hydrogen fuel.

Nanotechnology may be able to address the various issues keeping hydrogen progress at bay

Work to establish a comprehensive hydrogen infrastructure is currently underway throughout the world. This infrastructure is meant to support the emergence of hydrogen-powered transportation and provide a fueling structure for the industrial use of hydrogen-based equipment. One of the key problems with a comprehensive infrastructure is figuring out how to produce hydrogen gas efficiently. Currently, hydrogen production is an energy intensive process, whose energy needs can only be satisfied through the burning of fossil-fuels. Researchers from the Northeastern University and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, have been working with titanium dioxide nanotubes, which have photocatalytic properties.

Titanium dioxide is capable of producing hydrogen gas through exposure to the sun

Researchers have found that the titanium dioxide nanotubes can be used to produce hydrogen gas when they are exposed to sunlight. The key ingredient for this process is water. When the nanotubes are submerged in water and exposed to solar radiation, hydrogen gas is produced, which can then be used by fuel cells to produce electricity. The structure of these nanotubes could also serve as a basis for the storage of hydrogen in a solid state. Magnesium nanoparticles have emerged as one of the more popular materials for hydrogen storage due to their porous structure.

Solutions provided by nanotechnology could make hydrogen a favored source of energy

If the problems with hydrogen production and storage can be resolved, hydrogen fuel may become one of the world’s leading sources of energy. Fuel cells have already proven themselves to be powerful energy systems capable of competing with traditional forms of power. Until that time, however, hydrogen may continue to struggle to attain the support it needs to thrive.


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