Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Scientists find new way to store hydrogen fuel


University of Chicago scientists have proposed a new method for storing hydrogen fuel in this week’s online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The lack of practical storage methods has hindered the more widespread use of hydrogen fuels, which are both renewable and environmentally clean. The most popular storage methods-liquid hydrogen and compressed hydrogen-require that the fuel be kept at extremely low temperatures or high pressures. But the University of Chicago’s Wendy Mao and David Mao have formed icy materials made of molecular hydrogen that require less stringent temperature and pressure storage conditions.

"This new class of compounds offers a possible alternative route for technologically useful hydrogen storage," said Russell Hemley, Senior Staff Scientist at the Geophysical Laboratory of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. The findings also could help explain how hydrogen becomes incorporated in growing planetary bodies, he said.

The father-daughter team synthesized compounds made of hydrogen and water, hydrogen and methane, and hydrogen and octane in a diamond-anvil cell, which researchers often use to simulate the high pressures found far beneath Earth’s surface.

The hydrogen-water experiments produced the best results. "The hydrogen-water system has already yielded three compounds so far, with more likely to be found," said Wendy Mao, a graduate student in Geophysical Sciences at the University of Chicago.

The compound that holds the most promise for hydrogen storage, called a hydrogen clathrate hydrate, was synthesized at pressures between 20,000 and 30,000 atmospheres and temperatures of minus 207 degrees Fahrenheit. More importantly, the compound remains stable at atmospheric pressure and a temperature of minus 320 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature at which liquid nitrogen boils.

"We thought that would be economically very feasible. Liquid nitrogen is easy and cheap to make," Wendy Mao said.

The hydrogen in a clathrate can be released when heated to 207 degrees Fahrenheit. The clathrate’s environmentally friendly byproduct: water.

David Mao noted that while petroleum-based fuels will eventually run out, the supply of hydrogen is limitless. "Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe," said David Mao, a Visiting Scientist in Geophysical Sciences at the University of Chicago. If the new method of storing hydrogen fuel works as expected, "that’s going to change everyone’s life in a big way," he said.

The Maos have applied for a patent on their hydrogen clathrate synthesis technique, but one problem still remains: how to make the clathrates in quantities sufficient to power a car. "We’ve only made them in very small amounts in diamond-anvil cells," Wendy Mao said. The Carnegie Institution’s Hemley noted that the clathrates can be produced in gas pressure devices as well as diamond-anvil cells.

In the realm of planetary science, the study helps explain how some of Jupiter’s moons could have incorporated hydrogen during their formation. Scientists once thought that the moons were incapable of retaining hydrogen during their formation. Now it appears that Callisto, Ganymede and especially Europa contain large quantities of water ice, which would require the presence of hydrogen. The hydrogen clathrates that the Maos synthesized in the laboratory could have formed naturally under the temperature and pressure conditions expected to prevail inside these Jovian moons, Wendy Mao said.

Steve Koppes | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht 'Super yeast' has the power to improve economics of biofuels
18.10.2016 | University of Wisconsin-Madison

nachricht Engineers reveal fabrication process for revolutionary transparent sensors
14.10.2016 | University of Wisconsin-Madison

All articles from Power and Electrical 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 >>>