New study of hydrogen storage material magnesium hydride reveals path to better performance, possibly paving way toward better future fuel tanks
The dream of a cleaner, greener transportation future burns brightly in the promise of hydrogen-fueled, internal combustion engine automobiles. Modern-day versions of such vehicles run hot, finish clean and produce only pure water as a combustion byproduct.
But whether those vehicles ever cross over from the niche marketplace to become the mainstay of every garage may depend on how well we can address lingering technical and infrastructure hurdles that stand in the way of their widespread use. One of these is the fuel tank -- how do you engineer them so that they can be more like gasoline tanks, which are relatively safe, easy to fill, carry you hundreds of miles and can be refueled again and again with no loss of performance?
This week in the journal Applied Physics Letters, from AIP Publishing, a team of researchers in the United States and China has taken a step toward that solution. They describe the physics of magnesium hydride, one type of material that potentially could be used to store hydrogen fuel in future automobiles and other applications. Using a technique known as in situ transmission electron microscopy, the team tested different sized nanoparticles of magnesium hydride to gauge their mechanical properties and discovered lessons on how one might engineer the nanoparticles to make them better.
"Smaller particles have better mechanical properties, including better plastic stability," said Qian Yu, the lead author on the paper. "Our work explained why."
Yu is affiliated with Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China; the University of California, Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
Other collaborators on the work are affiliated with the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor; General Motors Research and Development Center in Warren, Michigan; and Shanghai Jiaotong University in Shanghai, China.
The Problem of Storing Hydrogen with Magnesium
Hydrogen storage for automobile engines is still something of an application in search of its technology. We know that the next generation of hydrogen fuel tanks will need to offer greater storage capacities and better gas exchange kinetics than existing models, but we don't know exactly what it will take to deliver that.
One possibility is to use a material like magnesium hydride, long seen as a promising medium for storage. Magnesium readily binds hydrogen, and so the idea is that you could take a tank filled with magnesium, pump in hydrogen and then pump it out as needed to run the engine.
But this approach is hampered by slow kinetics of adsorption and desorption -- the speed with which molecular hydrogen binds to and is released from the magnesium. This is ultimately tied to the how the material binds to hydrogen at the molecular level, and so in recent years researchers have sought to better engineer magnesium to achieve better kinetics.
Previous work had already shown that smaller magnesium nanoparticles have better hydrogen storage properties, but nobody understood why. Some thought it was primarily the greater overall magnesium surface area within the tank realized by milling smaller particles. But Yu and colleagues showed that it is also highly related to how the particles respond to deformation during cycles of fueling and emptying the tank.
Fuel cycles in a hydrogen tank introduce tremendous internal changes in pressure, which can deform the particles, cracking or degrading them. Smaller particles have greater plastic stability, meaning that they are more able to retain their structure even when undergoing deformation. This means that the smaller, more plastic magnesium nanoparticles can retain their structure longer and continue to hold hydrogen cycle after cycle.
But it turns out that in addition to greater plastic stability, the smaller particles also have less "deformation anisotropy" -- a measure of how the magnesium nanoparticles all tend to respond, uniformly or not, across the entire tank. Deformation anisotropy is strongly reduced at nanoscales, Yu said, and because of this, smaller magnesium nanoparticles have more homogeneous dislocation activity inside, which offer more homogenously distributed diffusion path for hydrogen.
This suggests a path forward for making better hydrogen storage tanks, Yu said, by engineering them specifically to take advantage of greater homogeneous dislocation. Next they plan to do similar studies on hydrogen storage materials as they undergo fuel cycling, absorbing and desorbing hydrogen in the process.
The article, "Size-dependent mechanical properties of Mg nanoparticles used for hydrogen storage," is authored by Qian Yu, Liang Qi, Raja K. Mishra, Xiaoqin Zeng and Andrew M. Minor. It will be published in the journal Applied Physics Letters on June 30, 2015 (DOI: 10.1063/1.4921003). After that date, it can be accessed at: http://scitation.
ABOUT THE JOURNAL
Applied Physics Letters features concise, rapid reports on significant new findings in applied physics. The journal covers new experimental and theoretical research on applications of physics phenomena related to all branches of science, engineering, and modern technology. See: http://apl.
Jason Socrates Bardi | EurekAlert!
Nanomaterial makes laser light more applicable
28.03.2017 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel
New value added to the ICSD (Inorganic Crystal Structure Database)
27.03.2017 | FIZ Karlsruhe – Leibniz-Institut für Informationsinfrastruktur GmbH
The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.
To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
28.03.2017 | Life Sciences
28.03.2017 | Information Technology
28.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy