Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


New storage system design brings hydrogen cars closer to reality

Researchers have developed a critical part of a hydrogen storage system for cars that makes it possible to fill up a vehicle's fuel tank within five minutes with enough hydrogen to drive 300 miles.

The system uses a fine powder called metal hydride to absorb hydrogen gas. The researchers have created the system's heat exchanger, which circulates coolant through tubes and uses fins to remove heat generated as the hydrogen is absorbed by the powder.

The heat exchanger is critical because the system stops absorbing hydrogen effectively if it overheats, said Issam Mudawar, a professor of mechanical engineering who is leading the research.

"The hydride produces an enormous amount of heat," Mudawar said. "It would take a minimum of 40 minutes to fill the tank without cooling, and that would be entirely impractical."

Researchers envision a system that would enable motorists to fill their car with hydrogen within a few minutes. The hydrogen would then be used to power a fuel cell to generate electricity to drive an electric motor.

The research, funded by General Motors Corp. and directed by GM researchers Darsh Kumar, Michael Herrmann and Abbas Nazri, is based at the Hydrogen Systems Laboratory at Purdue's Maurice J. Zucrow Laboratories. In February, the team applied for three provisional patents related to this technology.

"The idea is to have a system that fills the tank and at the same time uses accessory connectors that supply coolant to extract the heat," said Mudawar, who is working with mechanical engineering graduate student Milan Visaria and Timothée Pourpoint, a research assistant professor of aeronautics and astronautics and manager of the Hydrogen Systems Laboratory. "This presented an engineering challenge because we had to figure out how to fill the fuel vessel with hydrogen quickly while also removing the heat efficiently. The problem is, nobody had ever designed this type of heat exchanger before. It's a whole new animal that we designed from scratch."

The metal hydride is contained in compartments inside the storage "pressure vessel." Hydrogen gas is pumped into the vessel at high pressure and absorbed by the powder.

"This process is reversible, meaning the hydrogen gas may be released from the metal hydride by decreasing the pressure in the storage vessel," Mudawar said. "The heat exchanger is fitted inside the hydrogen storage pressure vessel. Due to space constraints, it is essential that the heat exchanger occupy the least volume to maximize room for hydrogen storage."

Conventional automotive coolant flows through a U-shaped tube traversing the length of the pressure vessel and heat exchanger. The heat exchanger, which is made mostly of aluminum, contains a network of thin fins that provide an efficient cooling path between the metal hydride and the coolant.

"This milestone paves the way for practical on-board hydrogen storage systems that can be charged multiple times in much the same way a gasoline tank is charged today," said Kumar, a researcher at GM's Chemical & Environmental Sciences Laboratory and the GM R&D Center in Warren, Mich. "As newer and better metal hydrides are developed by research teams worldwide, the heat exchanger design will provide a ready solution for the automobile industry."

The researchers have developed the system over the past two years. Because metal hydride reacts readily with both air and moisture, the system must be assembled in an airtight chamber, Pourpoint said.

Research activities at the hydrogen laboratory involve faculty members from the schools of aeronautics and astronautics, mechanical engineering, and electrical and computer engineering.

Writer: Emil Venere, (765) 494-4709,
Sources: Issam Mudawar, (765) 494-5705,
Darsh Kumar, (586) 986-1614,
Timothée Pourpoint, 765-494-1541,
Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

Emil Venere | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Automotive Engineering:

nachricht New algorithm for optimized stability of planar-rod objects
11.08.2016 | Institute of Science and Technology Austria

nachricht Automated driving: Steering without limits
05.02.2016 | FZI Forschungszentrum Informatik am Karlsruher Institut für Technologie

All articles from Automotive Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>