The storage of hydrogen in fuel cell powered cars can probably be greatly improved by increasing the working temperature of the fuel cell. With the use of magnesium powder, the storage of hydrogen can take place more efficiently and safely and at a higher temperature. This is the conclusion of Gijs Schimmel, who will defend his PhD thesis at TU Delft on 1 February.
One of the main problems in the transition to a hydrogen economy is the storage of hydrogen, for use in vehicles, for example. Currently, this is done by storing the gas at high pressures or very low temperatures. Delft researcher, Gijs Schimmel, finds the high pressure option suitable for use in busses, “After all, on a bus there is space for a few high pressure cylinders. In cars this is not the case. Also, with such a tank, you are dealing with pressures of up to 350 bars, while in the case of LPG tanks, the pressure is restricted to 10 bars for safety reasons.’
During his research at the Delft Institute for Sustainable Energy, Schimmel therefore studied the possibilities of the storage of hydrogen in powdered magnesium. Hydrogen storage in this kind of metal hydrides has been researched for a long time, but according to Schimmel, the problem remains that too much energy and too high a temperature is needed to extract the hydrogen from the compound, which negatively effects the efficiency of the process. Schimmel points out that an adjustment in the fuel cell itself may provide a solution. If the fuel cell were to work at a higher temperature than normal (between 200 and 300 °C in stead of 80 °C for most current fuel cells), then the ‘excess heat’ from the fuel cell could be used to efficiently extract hydrogen from the storage tank.
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