Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Berkeley Lab scientists achieve breakthrough in nanocomposite for high-capacity hydrogen storage

14.03.2011
Since the 1970s, hydrogen has been touted as a promising alternative to fossil fuels due to its clean combustion —unlike hydrocarbon-based fuels, which spew greenhouse gases and harmful pollutants, hydrogen's only combustion by-product is water.

Compared to gasoline, hydrogen is lightweight, can provide a higher energy density and is readily available. But there's a reason we're not already living in a hydrogen economy: to replace gasoline as a fuel, hydrogen must be safely and densely stored, yet easily accessed. Limited by materials unable to leap these conflicting hurdles, hydrogen storage technology has lagged behind other clean energy candidates.

In recent years, researchers have attempted to tackle both issues by locking hydrogen into solids, packing larger quantities into smaller volumes with low reactivity—a necessity in keeping this volatile gas stable. However, most of these solids can only absorb a small amount of hydrogen and require extreme heating or cooling to boost their overall energy efficiency.

Now, scientists with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have designed a new composite material for hydrogen storage consisting of nanoparticles of magnesium metal sprinkled through a matrix of polymethyl methacrylate, a polymer related to Plexiglas. This pliable nanocomposite rapidly absorbs and releases hydrogen at modest temperatures without oxidizing the metal after cycling—a major breakthrough in materials design for hydrogen storage, batteries and fuel cells.

"This work showcases our ability to design composite nanoscale materials that overcome fundamental thermodynamic and kinetic barriers to realize a materials combination that has been very elusive historically," says Jeff Urban, Deputy Director of the Inorganic Nanostructures Facility at the Molecular Foundry, a DOE Office of Science nanoscience center and national user facility located at Berkeley Lab. "Moreover, we are able to productively leverage the unique properties of both the polymer and nanoparticle in this new composite material, which may have broad applicability to related problems in other areas of energy research."

Urban, along with coauthors Ki-Joon Jeon and Christian Kisielowski used the TEAM 0.5 microscope at the National Center for Electron Microscopy (NCEM), another DOE Office of Science national user facility housed at Berkeley Lab, to observe individual magnesium nanocrystals dispersed throughout the polymer. With the high-resolution imaging capabilities of TEAM 0.5, the world's most powerful electron microscope, the researchers were also able to track defects—atomic vacancies in an otherwise-ordered crystalline framework—providing unprecedented insight into the behavior of hydrogen within this new class of storage materials.

"Discovering new materials that could help us find a more sustainable energy solution is at the core of the Department of Energy's mission. Our lab provides outstanding experiments to support this mission with great success," says Kisielowski. "We confirmed the presence of hydrogen in this material through time-dependent spectroscopic investigations with the TEAM 0.5 microscope. This investigation suggests that even direct imaging of hydrogen columns in such materials can be attempted using the TEAM microscope."

"The unique nature of Berkeley Lab encourages cross-division collaborations without any limitations," said Jeon, now at the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology, whose postdoctoral work with Urban led to this publication.

To investigate the uptake and release of hydrogen in their nanocomposite material, the team turned to Berkeley Lab's Energy and Environmental Technologies Division (EETD), whose research is aimed at developing more environmentally friendly technologies for generating and storing energy, including hydrogen storage.

"Here at EETD, we have been working closely with industry to maintain a hydrogen storage facility as well as develop hydrogen storage property testing protocols," says Samuel Mao, director of the Clean Energy Laboratory at Berkeley Lab and an adjunct engineering faculty member at the University of California (UC), Berkeley. "We very much enjoy this collaboration with Jeff and his team in the Materials Sciences Division, where they developed and synthesized this new material, and were then able to use our facility for their hydrogen storage research."

Adds Urban, "This ambitious science is uniquely well-positioned to be pursued within the strong collaborative ethos here at Berkeley Lab. The successes we achieve depend critically upon close ties between cutting-edge microscopy at NCEM, tools and expertise from EETD, and the characterization and materials know-how from MSD."

This research is reported in a paper titled, "Air-stable magnesium nanocomposites provide rapid and high-capacity hydrogen storage without heavy metal catalysts," appearing in the journal Nature Materials and available in Nature Materials online. Co-authoring the paper with Urban, Kisielowski and Jeon were Hoi Ri Moon, Anne M. Ruminski, Bin Jiang and Rizia Bardhan.

This work was supported by DOE's Office of Science.

The Molecular Foundry is one of the five DOE Nanoscale Science Research Centers (NSRCs), premier national user facilities for interdisciplinary research at the nanoscale. Together the NSRCs comprise a suite of complementary facilities that provide researchers with state-of-the-art capabilities to fabricate, process, characterize and model nanoscale materials, and constitute the largest infrastructure investment of the National Nanotechnology Initiative. The NSRCs are located at DOE's Argonne, Brookhaven, Lawrence Berkeley, Oak Ridge and Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories. For more information about the DOE NSRCs, please visit http://nano.energy.gov.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratory managed by the University of California for the DOE Office of Science. Berkeley Lab provides solutions to the world's most urgent scientific challenges including sustainable energy, climate change, human health, and a better understanding of matter and force in the universe. It is a world leader in improving our lives through team science, advanced computing, and innovative technology.

Aditi Risbud | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.lbl.gov

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht Plant inspiration could lead to flexible electronics
22.06.2017 | American Chemical Society

nachricht A rhodium-based catalyst for making organosilicon using less precious metal
22.06.2017 | Tokyo Institute of Technology

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

Im Focus: Optoelectronic Inline Measurement – Accurate to the Nanometer

Germany counts high-precision manufacturing processes among its advantages as a location. It’s not just the aerospace and automotive industries that require almost waste-free, high-precision manufacturing to provide an efficient way of testing the shape and orientation tolerances of products. Since current inline measurement technology not yet provides the required accuracy, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is collaborating with four renowned industry partners in the INSPIRE project to develop inline sensors with a new accuracy class. Funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the project is scheduled to run until the end of 2019.

New Manufacturing Technologies for New Products

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A new technique isolates neuronal activity during memory consolidation

22.06.2017 | Life Sciences

Plant inspiration could lead to flexible electronics

22.06.2017 | Materials Sciences

A rhodium-based catalyst for making organosilicon using less precious metal

22.06.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>