Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories in Livermore, Calif., however, have quietly been tackling the problem for years. Sandia is a National Nuclear Security Administration laboratory.
Hydrogen embrittlement is not unique to on-board storage, but automotive applications are the focus of Sandia’s current research. In terms of on-board storage, Sandia materials scientist Brian Somerday says hydrogen embrittlement can be defined as the cracking or fracturing of the outside wall of a hydrogen storage tank. It occurs because of the unique structure and absorption qualities of hydrogen and can lead to unintended leaks.
“Because of its small size, hydrogen can readily diffuse (scatter or disperse) into materials at room temperature,” says Somerday. “Other gas species can promote embrittlement of structural materials, but the mobility of hydrogen at room temperature makes it unique as an embrittling agent.”
This means the hydrogen is easily absorbed by other materials, which is a useful scientific phenomenon when the goal is to store hydrogen in a metal hydride material for onboard storage. “But for the automobile’s fuel tank itself,” says Somerday, “the risk of embrittlement – and subsequent leaks – is a concern.”
Materials scientists have been working on hydrogen embrittlement since long before the term “hydrogen highway” joined the vernacular.
“This is not a new phenomenon, but one that has been studied for decades,” says Somerday, who was hired by Sandia 10 years ago to work on hydrogen embrittlement in relation to gas transfer systems. Currently, his efforts support the FreedoomCAR and Fuel Partnership and are focused on low-cost steels, aluminum alloys, and stainless steels. His primary interest is what happens structurally to those materials when exposed to hydrogen.
“By measuring the structural properties of the materials, quantifying the degree by which they will degrade when stressed in hydrogen, and simulating the cracks that occur in the structural material, we can minimize the impact of the embrittlement through proper design,” says Somerday. The ultimate goal, he says, is to eliminate the possibility of embrittlement altogether.
A scientific level of understanding, he says, will help provide guidance for storing hydrogen for automotive purposes — whether in an onboard fuel tank, a storage tank at a refueling station, or piping that hydrogen might flow through between the two. The researchers, says Somerday, are interested in anything that might come in contact with high-pressure hydrogen. The results of Sandia’s research will facilitate decisions such as what structural materials to use for hydrogen storage and the lifespan of such materials.
Sandia, Somerday says, is one of only a few research institutions currently studying the embrittlement issue. One of its lab capabilities allows researchers to subject material specimens to dynamic loads in very high hydrogen gas pressures (other systems generally only offer much lower pressure capacities).
Due to his expertise and knowledge of the subject, Somerday will serve as a faculty member at the Third European Summer School on Hydrogen Safety, to beheld later this summer at the University of Ulster (Belfast, UK). He’ll teach a two-part course titled Hydrogen Effects in Materials, while his Sandia colleague Jeff LaChance will lead a quantitative risk assessment course.
Sandia is a multiprogram laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a Lockheed Martin company, for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. With main facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has major R&D responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies, and economic competitiveness.
Mike Janes | newswise
New biomaterial could replace plastic laminates, greatly reduce pollution
21.09.2017 | Penn State
Stopping problem ice -- by cracking it
21.09.2017 | Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
19.09.2017 | Event News
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
22.09.2017 | Life Sciences
22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering
22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy