Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Chemists report progress in quest to use hydrogen as fuel for cars and electronic devices

08.03.2006


Chemists at UCLA and the University of Michigan report an advance toward the goal of cars that run on hydrogen rather than gasoline. While the U.S. Department of Energy estimates that practical hydrogen fuel will require concentrations of at least 6.5 percent, the chemists have achieved concentrations of 7.5 percent — nearly three times as much as has been reported previously — but at a very low temperature (77 degrees Kelvin).



The research, scheduled to be published in late March in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, could lead to a hydrogen fuel that powers not only cars, but laptop computers, cellular phones, digital cameras and other electronic devices as well.

"We have a class of materials in which we can change the components nearly at will," said Omar Yaghi, UCLA professor of chemistry, who conducted the research with colleagues at the University of Michigan. "There is no other class of materials where one can do that. The exciting discovery we are reporting is that, using a new material, we have identified a clear path for how to get above seven percent of the material’s weight in hydrogen."


The materials, which Yaghi invented in the early 1990s, are called metal-organic frameworks (MOFs), pronounced "moffs," which are like scaffolds made of linked rods — a structure that maximizes the surface area. MOFs, which have been described as crystal sponges, have pores, openings on the nanoscale in which Yaghi and his colleagues can store gases that are usually difficult to store and transport. MOFs can be made highly porous to increase their storage capacity; one gram of a MOF has the surface area of a football field! Yaghi’s laboratory has made more than 500 MOFs, with a variety of properties and structures.

"We have achieved 7.5 percent hydrogen; we want to achieve this percent at ambient temperatures," said Yaghi, a member of the California NanoSystems Institute. "We can store significantly more hydrogen with the MOF material than without the MOF."

MOFs can be made from low-cost ingredients, such as zinc oxide — a common ingredient in sunscreen — and terephthalate, which is found in plastic soda bottles.

"MOFs will have many applications. Molecules can go in and out of them unobstructed. We can make polymers inside the pores with well-defined and predictable properties. There is no limit to what structures we can get, and thus no limit to the applications."

In the push to develop hydrogen fuel cells to power cars, cell phones and other devices, one of the biggest challenges has been finding ways to store large amounts of hydrogen at the right temperatures and pressures. Yaghi and his colleagues have now demonstrated the ability to store large amounts of hydrogen at the right pressure; in addition, Yaghi has ideas about how to modify the rod-like components to store hydrogen at ambient temperatures (0–45°C).

"A decade ago, people thought methane would be impossible to store; that problem has been largely solved by our MOF materials. Hydrogen is a little more challenging than methane, but I am optimistic."

Yaghi, 41, has reason to be optimistic since only a handful of MOFs have been tested for hydrogen storage thus far. This is not unreasonable given that MOFs are composed of an inorganic component — a metal oxide — and an organic component; he can control their assembly into new structures nearly at will.

How would hydrogen work in devices like cell phones, laptop computers and digital cameras?

"Instead of a battery, one would have a medium such as MOF that stores hydrogen and releases it into a fuel cell," he said.

Yaghi, whose research overlaps chemistry, materials science and engineering, has long been interested in making materials in a rational way.

"When I started out in chemistry, I always thought it should be possible to take two well‑defined molecules as building blocks and stitch them together into a predetermined chemical structure — almost like you produce a blueprint of the structure ahead of time and then find the right building blocks necessary to build it. In this way, one can control the structure and the composition. This approach was difficult to implement at the beginning, but is not so difficult at this stage."

Hydrogen, when burned, produces only water, which is harmless to the environment, Yaghi noted. With MOFs, hydrogen is physically absorbed, and it is easy to take the hydrogen out and put it back in without much energy cost, he said.

"The challenge has been, how do you store enough hydrogen for an automobile to run for 300 to 400 miles without refueling?" Yaghi asked. "You have to concentrate the hydrogen into a small volume without using high pressure of very low temperature.

"Our idea was to create a material with pores that attract hydrogen, making it possible to stuff more hydrogen molecules into a small volume," he said.

In previous research, Yaghi and colleagues reported that MOFs also can store large amounts of methane (natural gas).

"We have materials that exceed the DOE requirements for methane, and we think we can apply the same sort of strategy for hydrogen storage," he said.

Additionally, Yaghi has shown that MOFs store prodigious amounts of carbon dioxide at ambient conditions, a development relevant to preventing carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and automobile tailpipes from reaching the atmosphere.

The research was funded by the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy and BASF (a global chemical company based in Germany).

Co-authors of the present research report, which Yaghi conducted when he was on the faculty at the University of Michigan, are Adam Matzger, assistant professor of chemistry at Michigan, and Antek Wong-Foy, chemistry research associate at Michigan.

Stuart Wolpert | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ucla.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Immune Defense Without Collateral Damage
23.01.2017 | Universität Basel

nachricht The interactome of infected neural cells reveals new therapeutic targets for Zika
23.01.2017 | D'Or Institute for Research and Education

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin

For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.

According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Tracking movement of immune cells identifies key first steps in inflammatory arthritis

23.01.2017 | Health and Medicine

Electrocatalysis can advance green transition

23.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

New technology for mass-production of complex molded composite components

23.01.2017 | Process Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>