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Power Science

New Hydrogen Storage Technique 255

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the jiggle-handle-below dept.
pwp writes to mention that researchers at the University of New Brunswick are reporting they have found a new method of storing hydrogen gas. The new method is able to condense hydrogen gas into a usable solid under mild conditions. "Hydrogen gas is typically stored under pressure in large metal cylinders, approximately four feet high. These cylinders are heavy and expensive to transport. Since they are under pressure, they also pose a safety hazard. 'We've reached a milestone with our ability to condense hydrogen into a usable solid,' said Dr. McGrady. 'The next step is to produce a safe, compact storage system for the compound that is both lightweight and affordable.' The research is expected to produce reversible hydrogen storage materials that can be processed into a powder for use in limitless commercial applications."
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New Hydrogen Storage Technique

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  • I want more. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PrinceAshitaka (562972) * on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @11:18AM (#18348705) Homepage
    This article has absolutly vague information on what research they are doing. Storing hydrogen as a solid, apparetly as a powder? What would be interesting is to see how much energy is lost in the chemical reactions of reacting hydrogen with whatever they react it with and then changing it back into hydrogen gas. I would also like to see how this compares to the energy required to compress hydrogen as it is currently done. This is what will determine this technologies usefulness in reality.

    Only nine percent hydrogen by weight is success? How much fuel will it waste in transportation if there is nine times as much "pakaging" material as there is hydrogen. Yes the currently used hydrogen cylinders are heavy, but I do not believe they weigh nine times as much as they can carry.
    • Re:I want more. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by [Mobius] (89516) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @11:22AM (#18348771)
      They bind it with aluminum to create a stable hydrogen/aluminum powder.

      At least, that's what a local news report mentioned a few days back.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by ch-chuck (9622)
        Is it transparent?

        (sleep 15)

      • Re:I want more. (Score:5, Informative)

        by Rei (128717) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @11:42AM (#18349117) Homepage
        Whoah, seriously? They're making alane [] (stabilized aluminum hydride, AlH3)? Yep, a quick search revealed this to be the case []. This would interest the rocketry industry as well, since alane offers great Isp. Let me check those weight numbers. Aluminum's atomic mass is about 27, while hydrogen's is about 1. AlH3 would thus be about 10% hydrogen by weight, so 9% would be essentially saturated, and 6% over half saturated. If correct, this would be incredible.


        As many people seem to forget on energy and rocketry threads, breakthroughs like this are sadly a dime a dozen. The vast majority never reach the market or reach it in a greatly diminished form. Thus, take press-release style reports of breakthroughs with a heavy grain of salt.
        • by Rei (128717)
          Grr, posted the wrong link for alane [] before. :P
        • Re:I want more. (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Sockatume (732728) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @12:32PM (#18349977)
          Of course, the real problem isn't just hydrogen density, the thermodynamics and kinetics of hydrogen uptake and release are important too. You want it to fall off in a nice controlled manner with very little energy: on the order of thermal energies so you can use waste heat from the fuel cell, or a simple heater, to get the hydrogen off. Likewise you want to be able to recharge it with hydrogen quickly and with small energy requirements. Many really great hydrogen storage solutions have run into problems at this end of the problem and need metal catalysts, which increases the weight and cost. Frankly, practical hydrogen fuel vehicles are still a couple of decades off. It's going to be cool, though. At the gas station, you won't have to go to the pumps, you'll just haul your "empties" out and swap them for reloaded cartridges. If you wanted to take extra fuel with you for a cross-country trip, you could just buy some spares. More expensive than jerry cans, but easier to swap in and out. Of course there's no particular reason for Audi's hydrogen cartridges to be same shape as BMW's, which could get "interesting".
          • Why haul anything? (Score:3, Insightful)

            by jd (1658)
            If the manufacturers standardize on a cartridge format, then it could be automatically removed and a fresh cartridge inserted. The robotics for such an operation have been more than adequate for about a decade now.

            Of course, you are right in questioning how standard these things will get. (Answer: If it will kill a competitor or three, not very)

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Glonoinha (587375)
            Screw that - I'm hoping it burns better than thermite (with is pretty much what powdered aluminum is, when you add a little iron oxide.)
            The only way they could make it more interesting (fun) than that would be to infuse it with a healthy chunk of sodium or potassium so all it takes to set it off is WATER.

            Damn, I'm getting excited just thinking about it (in a totally platonic way, of course.)
        • Re:I want more. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by cupofjoe (727361) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @01:32PM (#18351183)
          I agree that it would appear they could be talking about Alane (AlH3), which has a theoretical weight-density of about 10% hydrogen. Yes, 10% is good...but as folks in the hydrogen storage community would be quick to tell you, it's not unusual. For example, Lithium Borohydride (LiBH4) has a theoretical weight-density of almost 18.5% hydrogen! The key is simply to bind hydrogen with light elements in a stable configuration, right?

          Wrong. That's not even the tip of the iceberg.

          The real problem, as any hydride person would correctly point out, is not "theoretical storage fraction"; rather, it's REVERSIBLE storage fraction. It doesn't really matter, in the long run, if you can store 18%, or even 25% hydrogen by weight in a substance if the following are true:

          1. it takes a LOT of energy to put it in (theormodynamically unfavorable hydrogenation reaction)
          2. you can only get out a small fraction of what you put in under favorable conditions (non-reversibility)
          3. the reaction doesn't move very quickly (unfavorable kinetics)

          With these limitations, you face a severe energy penalty for trying to use the material as a hydrogen carrier, mostly because it's one-way. The keys to an inexpensive, efficient solid-state hydrogen storage material combine high storage fraction with a high level of reversibility: why bother using a material if you have to ship it back to the "refinery" when the hydrogen has been depleted? As an example, let me use the typical automotvie application to illustrate. (I know that TFA - which doesn't really say ANYthing, natch - doesn't explicitly state that their "revolutionary" material is for automotive applications, but that's where all the money is coming from these days.)

          What I want to do is expose the dehydrogenated powder (it's usually a powder) to hydrogen gas at about 1 atmosphere (~15 psi), remove some heat of reaction (for later use, naturally) and go on with my business. Preferably at a "hydrogen filling station", whatever that ends up looking like. Oh, and refueling shouldn't take more than about 5 minutes. And once the tank is full, I should be able to drive 300 miles without filling up again.

          Right now, there is NO material known on Earth that can fulfill these requirements and still be designed into a car.

          The astute reader will notice immediately that I'm leaving out what might be the single-most crucial design driver: SAFETY. I don't know if everyone's been keeping up, but alane (and the alanate hydrides in general) are ROCKET FUELS. Personally, I don't want to drive around with 20kg of solid rocket fuel in my car's gas tank. In this case, safety will absolutely drive eventual adoption, even trumping reversible storage fraction.

          For example, sodium alanate (NaAlH4) has a theoretical storage fraction of 5.6%, and the reversible fraction is starting to approach 4-5%, which is a very, very good track record. However, when it sees water (which it might, in a car accident) it EXPLODES. Well, deflagrates, but you get the point.

          (rant on)

          Don't get me wrong. I'm all about solid-state H2 storage, and the "H2 economy" in general, whatever that happens to be. I'm even a "real" materials engineer, working with hydrides. But I'm also all about reality, and hopefully trying to "drop the veil" of proprietary information wherever possible. We're working as a team, people. So, to the press folks at UNB: write better articles, publish some papers, or both.

          (rant off)

          • by Rei (128717)
            Interesting. My comments were mostly on the fact that alane, as you noted, *is* rocket fuel. There's been great interest in economically bulk producing alane that is stable at low pressures, because you get get an Isp with LOX/Alane that's almost as good as LOX/LH. While this article touts it for its use in the hydrogen economy, I find the concept of a high density, high ISP solid (best of both worlds) a lot more intriguing. But that's probably just me. :) It would hold great promise for reducing launc
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      Nitpick: 9% is approximately 1/11. That means that 10/11 parts is 'packaging,' so there's ten times as much non-hydrogen stuff as there is hydrogen.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by LiquidCoooled (634315)
      Make these things into a tablet format and just add water,
      Its alka-selter for your car.


      As for the packaging, I would be more worried about the waste of the huge foil tablet wrappers than anything (though, they would be pretty much beanie shaped, so they could be used...)
    • by Stanistani (808333) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @11:30AM (#18348911) Homepage Journal
      There's very little actual information in the article, so I did some digging - here is the recipe:
      - - - - - - - - - -
      Brunswick Stew

      In a 2 gallon pot, over low heat melt ¼ lb of butter then add:
      3 cups small diced potatoes
      1 cup small diced onion
      2 14½ oz. cans of chicken broth
      1 lb baked chicken (white and dark)
      8-10 oz. smoked pork

      Bring to a rolling boil, stirring until potatoes are near done, then add:
      1 8½ oz. can early peas
      2 14½ oz. cans stewed tomatoes - (chop tomatoes, add liquid to the stew pot)
      3 cups prepared onion barbecue sauce
      1 16 oz. can of baby lima beans
      ¼ cup Liquid Smoke
      1 14½ oz. can creamed corn
      Slow simmer for 2 hours
      - - - - - - - - - -
      The exciting revelation is that this recipe actually contains more than twice the percentage of hydrogen by weight that is stated in the article. Real progress.
    • by Ryan C. (159039) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @11:41AM (#18349093)
      But yes, even 9% is better than curent gas storage, which is much less than 5% hydrogen by weight. The DOE target for 2010 is 6%. And even then you'd be about five times the volume using compressed gas for a given amout of hydrogen.
      • by Rei (128717) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @11:57AM (#18349383) Homepage
        Not to mention that hydrogen's energy is about 120 MJ/kg, while gasoline has about 45 MJ/kg. Yes, this still translates to only a quarter the energy density of gasoline, but then there's another factor: conversion efficiency. A good hydrogen fuel cell and engine may give you 65% efficiency instead of 30% for a gasoline engine. So, assuming that this outgasses freely, your range per kg will be something like half the energy of gasoline per kilogram of fuel + fuel storage. So, double the mass of your fuel + fuel storage. If your vehicle normally takes 15 gallons of gasoline, then you'd be carrying an extra 48 kilograms (half the weight of one passenger) in fuel + fuel storage. Now you get to subtract: fuel cell/electric engines are generally ligher than ICEs, and you don't need an ICE.

        In short, I think the overall vehicle mass would come out to be lower. Volume of the fuel+drivetrain will be probably bigger, but I wouldn't expect it to be bigger by a huge amount (I'm not sure of the volume of current fuel cells; electric engines are pretty small, though, and you get to eliminate all sorts of components (like the alternator)).
      • by Sockatume (732728)
        Bear in mind that the 2010 target is for the whole storage system: the fuel, the tank and any apparatus needed to get the hydrogen to stay in or come out of it (electrical gear, heaters, coolers, whatever). Ammonia borane stores about 20% hydrogen by weight, for example, but nobody's setting off fireworks yet.
    • lets look (Score:3, Informative)

      by way2trivial (601132) []
      Typically, a 1460 x 230 mm K size industrial gas cylinder weighs 65kg and holds 7.2 cubic metres of hydrogen, which has to be compressed at 175 bar (c. 2500 psi) - a convenient size and weight (same as a 50 litre fuel tank) for one cylinder to fit into a car, but the actual weight of the hydrogen is only 0.6kg.
      hmmm... 65kg/.6kg .0092 ratio... that's uh, less than 1/100th or 100 times as much packing material....

    • Nothing that new here.

      Energy Conversion Devices has two stock Prius vehicles modified to run on Hydrogen instead of gasoline tooling around Detroit and LA. The hydorgen is stored as a Nickel Hydride (solid). Right now they can travel about 200 miles on a "tank" of hydrogen.

      More info on the web site. []

      It's also been on CNBC. XOfv_P9SrRHQUdfpqH_nadnlA-YvYzDd&Token=-Q0QvZVYzaU gzNXFHUWxSeG5NMzByN0cx-TEY0SXF4R1N []
  • by Radon360 (951529) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @11:19AM (#18348719)

    This article reads like the typical press release aimed to stir up grant money and venture capitalists. Too bad that UNB doesn't have a stock ticker symbol.

    Somebody feel free to submit the details about this when they're released.

  • Sweet (Score:5, Interesting)

    by inviolet (797804) <slashdot&ideasmatter,org> on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @11:23AM (#18348791) Journal

    Assuming the energy needed to perform the condensation is not lossy, this technique is going to be da bomb. :)

    Haha. But seriously, this is what the "hydrogen economy" needs. You could even grind the powder fine enough to be a slough, and 'pump' that into your vehicle's fuel tank.

    When George Bush first proposed hydrogen as the solution to our fossil-fuel habit, everyone mocked him for failing to understand that hydrogen is just a storage medium, rather than an energy source. I suspect he knew that all along... but since most Americans don't know it, he persuaded them to (at least in principle) buy in to the idea.

    Once there is enough interest in hydrogen, the "hydrogen economy" will indeed take off (e.g. today's breakthrough), and at that time we will be groping for a way to produce hydrogen in bulk. The optimal way to produce bulk hydrogen is of course a nuclear reactor. And so by this (alas necessarily) indirect route will Americans come to accept ubiquitous nuclear power. And that is exactly what Bush wanted (or at least should have wanted) all along.

    • So if the ultimate solution is nuclear power, the question then becomes: How do you make nuclear reactors that are safe enough to be owned and operated by the average American, whose intelligence is barely adequate to work a 9-5, come home, drink beer, eat pizza and go bowling on Wednesday nights? And how do you keep this average American simian safe from terrorists if all of his power is coming from said reactors? I ask this because even centralized nuclear power is risky, and for the average American to
      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        So if the ultimate solution is nuclear power, the question then becomes: How do you make nuclear reactors that are safe enough to be owned and operated by the average American, whose intelligence is barely adequate to work a 9-5, come home, drink beer, eat pizza and go bowling on Wednesday nights?


        There is NO reason to have a nuclear plant in your backyard.

        As supposedly unsafe as centralized nuclear power is (hint: if we actually used modern reactor designs, they would be much much safer) it's a lot

    • Re:Sweet (Score:4, Insightful)

      by RingDev (879105) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @12:31PM (#18349957) Homepage Journal
      "You could even grind the powder fine enough to be a slough, and 'pump' that into your vehicle's fuel tank."

      The thought that one of my profs mentioned in a business class was that IF this technology advances enough, that you could literally go to Walmart and buy your fuel off of a shelf. Since at room temperature the stuff is completely stable, is there even a need to have a gas station like environment?

    • Bush's only interest in a hydrogen economy is that it appears a long way off and gives his oil industry buddies plenty of time to make money. If he really wanted to cut oil consumption, he'd be promoting things we could do RIGHT NOW. And, please don't give Bush credit for first proposing hydrogen research (which he also underfunded).
    • by hlh_nospam (178327) <> on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @03:49PM (#18353879) Homepage Journal
      Hydrogen makes wonderfully good rocket fuel, because the energy/weight is the most important factor in rocket fuel, outweighing other factors such as cost and safety.

      Using hydrogen to power a car is insanely stupid.

      There is no scenario for the use of hydrogen in a terrestrial vehicle that would not be rendered safer, cheaper, and less polluting by taking whatever source of energy used to manufacture hydrogen and directly applying it to move the car -- skipping the extremely wasteful hydrogen conversion/transport/storage processes. Electrons are much easier to produce, ship, store, and use than hydrogen. There are already LiON battery technologies that promise very rapid charge/discharge cycles with no thermal runaway, and over 9000 complete charge/discharge cycles []. NiMH and Ni-Zn, while not quite as good in some ways as LiON, are still more viable than using hydrogen, whether by burning in an ICE, or in a fool-cell. And last time I checked, we are much closer to being able to build 50,000,000 EVs than we are to being able to build 50,000 fool-cell vehicles, because lithium (and nickel, and zinc) is far cheaper and more plentiful than platinum, which so far, is the only reasonably (?) effective catalyst for a fool-cell.

      Hydrogen will only be the fuel of choice for two groups: Those who have more money than sense, and those who can freely spend other people's money. Those of us that have to spend our own money, and don't have enough to burn, will go for more efficient technologies, such as EV and bio-diesel. Unless we are coerced by the government.

      Political Correctness makes lousy science, lousy economics, and even worse public policy.

  • Does anyone know anything about this, besides it's the same sort of thing we've been reading about for years. (Dissolving Hydrogen into another substance then realsing it at will).

    Is there something different here? What materials are they using. Is 9% actually a GOOD number?
  • The research is expected to produce reversible hydrogen storage materials that can be processed into a powder

    Just add water for a delicious instant beverage.
  • by KlaymenDK (713149) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @11:27AM (#18348855) Journal
    It's hard to say since the article is so light on the details, but DTU --the Danish equivalent of MIT-- demonstrated hydrogen in pellet form something like two years ago.

    One would do something I do not recall (perhaps pour water or an electric current over them?) to release the hydrogen, but otherwise they were inert. (I don't know what happened to that technology since, however.)
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by schnipschnap (739127)
      I believe the relevant slashdot article is here []. The link has moved since (and lost relevance, as, judging by the wording of slashdot summary, TFA just announced a presentation), but the guys behind it still have their website (here []). But what matters is that the method is not the same. The new method (for suitable values of new) uses an aluminum compound, the one the DTU guys (or whoever) have demonstrated uses ammonia.
  • Solid Hydrogen? I can't wait to heat my house with this stuff. Nothing like a fire made of Hydrogen logs.
    • The glow of a wood fire is from incandescent soot, so the hydrogen flame would be really unsatisfying.

      More of what they're doing at the research group's site [].
    • by Radon360 (951529)

      Nothing like a fire made of Hydrogen logs.

      I'd think you'd be quite disappointed with lack of ambience in your fireplace, however. Pure hydrogen burns with a nearly invisible flame. But heck, if all you care about is the heat, then who cares what it looks like when it burns.

    • Pretend this is real... Solidified hydrogen. I'm imagining a solid rocket motor. I'm imagining the "specific impulse" (thrust per unit mass) of such a system. I'm imagining the materials it would take to contain it.

      I'm imagining the blast radius of the first couple test failures.
  • Been done (Score:4, Informative)

    by ArcherB (796902) * on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @11:31AM (#18348937) Journal
    Hydrogen is already storable in a solid state, borax. I don't know how feasible it is for wide use. One of the main problems I see is that it would require three tanks in a vehicle; one for the borax, one for water and a third for waste, which is basically soap. From here []:

    "We developed a dual-bladder fuel tank," says Moore, "to hold the residue created by this process." Refueling pushes the filtrate out of the second bladder and into a collection tank, where it is held until returned for reprocessing. "Unlike gasoline, the tankers won't return to the refinery empty," says Moore, "so the trip back is value-added." And vehicle dynamics are more consistent due to the retention of the residue. There is no dramatic weight variation between "Full" and "empty".

    The technology currently is undergoing testing in a Chrysler minivan. "Technically, the vehicle is a hybrid," says Moore, "because the fuel cell recharges a lithium-ion battery pack that provides power for the wheels." Early testing has shown the van to be capable of 0-60 mph in 16 sec., the equivalent of 30 mpg, and of 300 miles on a tank of, well, slush. That tank, by the way, holds 54 gallons of new fuel, up to 40 gallons of residue, and is located between the rear axle and bumper under the van floor.

    Ironically, U.S. Borax, Former sponsor of Death Valley Days, owns most of the borax reserves in the world. There are 600 million metric tons of known borax reserves (dry lake beds are the greatest source), and estimates predict the 50 million vehicles currently on the road would use 20 million tons of borax each year, most of which would be recycled.
    • by jfengel (409917)
      Given that the article is five years old, it sounds like that technology didn't go much of anywhere. Maybe they learned some useful stuff from it that will apply to another hydrogen store, but after five years with no follow-up it sounds like a dead end in itself.
    • by Red Flayer (890720) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @11:52AM (#18349287) Journal
      It's also possible to store hydrogen in a stable solid matrix using oxygen. There are some limitations on temperature (IIRC, the maximum temperature is something like 273 K) as well as a lot of issues with toxicity []. In addition, most of the energy stored in H2 is used up by adding the oxygen to the hydrogen.

      There are, however, plenty of advantages to the oxygen-hydrogen storage matrix, the most significant of which is that it can also be used to chill a refeshing potent potable.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Sockatume (732728)
        You jest, but I've seen research papers on using ices to store molecular hydrogen. They were created in diamond anvils, mind, so it's waaaaay off in the periphery of theory right now, but it's got potential.
    • everyone says,

      using oil is changing the balance of the carbon cycle, by releasing carbon that was tucked away under the earth millions of years ago.....

      how does using borax change the "hydrogen" cycle?

    • Cue Slashdot posts emphasising the uselessness of hydrogen due to the fact that we must put more energy into the process than we get out. Well blow me over. Who'd have thought that thermodynamics would apply to our energy supplies?
    • Cue replies defending Hydrogen in combitation with wind, solar, hydro, wave power etc.
    • Cue retort about dead bird, bats, fish, displaced persons all being inferior options to the next generation of nuclear reactors.
    • Cue kneejerk rant about the danger of nuclear power to the environment and proliferation, along with something topical like Iran.
    • Cue the guy with that "coal releases more radiactivity than nuclear" line.
    • Cue exasperated response hyperbole about how oil is running out and civilisation as we know it is doomed and we must do something.(optional "for the children")
    • Cue comment from guy running a P4 about how our resources would last longer if we cut our usage.
    • Cue poster with link to obscurse new energy theory/perpetual motion machine site.

    Danm I love this joint!
    • The tongue-in-cheek summary shortcut post.
      And the wiseass respone to same.

    • by errxn (108621)
      Cue Grammar Nazi...Damn I love this joint!
    • by GundamFan (848341)
      It's what keeps me coming back.
    • by ameline (771895)
      You should have been modded insightful.

      But you forgot about cueing the guy pointing out that one of the most important factors for vehicular power sources is energy density, and that currently hydrogen along with its containment system absolutely sucks in this regard.

    • My hydrogen storage device: a giant balloon around an aliminium frame inflated with the gas, such that it is lighter than air. Attach a few engines and this green machine could be manouevred through the skies, carrying massive cargo and passengers. I just need some help to think of an imposing name for the future of transportation.

      This said, most of universe's energy comes from the fusion of Hydrogen nuclei.
  • by solevita (967690) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @11:32AM (#18348955)
    "Well son, throw another hydrogen log on the fire and I'll tell you all about that time me and Will Smith stopped the alien invasion with nothing but a pocket calculator. Those where the days!"
    • Don't forget to tell him about the Mac virus. That's the best part of the story.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by dgatwood (11270)

        A virus is caused by a pathogen... let's see... pathogen... pathogens... pathogens are carbon-based life, which means they're mostly water. Water is mostly hydrogen... hydrogen... Ah! Hydrogen is flammable. Flame is hot... and our sun fuses hydrogen, which means the sun is hot. I've got it! We'll launch the aliens into the sun!

        (If you don't get the logic, you must have missed the movie.)

  • 9% hydrogen by weight?

    That sounds familiar, water is only 11% hydrogen by weight, but nobody seems to have cared about that when they wanted to use water as a base fuel for cold fusion.
    • by jfengel (409917)
      The amount of energy released by fusing hydrogen is immensely more than the amount released chemically. A tank full of water will drive your car to the moon and back if you've got cold fusion going, even if it's only 11% hydrogen.

      But if all you're doing is reducing it with oxygen in the air, you're going to have to fill your tank fairly often if you've only got 9% hydrogen in your tank.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by gm0e (872436)
      The US dept of energy set a target of 6.5% hydrogen by weight [] for automobile hydrogen storage. So, yes, 9% is great (although the article is short on details and 9% is only their prediction - they haven't done it yet). The main alternatives to storing H2 gas in a high pressure gas cylinder are:
      • Molecular hydrogen (H2) physically sticking to a porous storage medium, such as a metal organic framework [], without chemically reacting.
      • Chemically storing atomic hydrogen in a compounds, such as metal hydrides [], wh
  • by Anonymous Coward []


    Investigation of the Direct Hydrogenation of Aluminum to Alane in Supercritical Fluids

    Alane, AlH$_{3}$ has many of the properties that are requisite for materials to be considered viable for onboard hydrogen storage applications. Most notibly, it contains 10.1 wt{\%} hydrogen and undergoes dehydrogenation at appreciable rates at temperatures below 100$^{\circ}$C. However, the very low, $\ge $ 6 kJ/mol, enthalpy of dehydrogenation of AlH$_{3}$ prohib
  • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @11:43AM (#18349139)
    Just what is a Usable Solid? To me it's one that's easily manufactured, non-polluting, cheap, safe to transport, and leaves no residue behind.

    If there is a residue, then it's a new Storage Container, and not a Usable Solid. If that's the case, then it needs to be easily rechargeable/refillable, quickly rechargeable/refillable, cheaply rechargeable/refillable, safely rechargeable/refillable/transportable, and provide good energy density for its overall weight and volume.

    Does this system meet all these requirements? Hard to tell.

    • And it is indeed easily maufactured, non-polluting, non-toxic, cheap, safe to transport, and (usually) leaves no residue behind.

      It is also very cheap to manufacture, and can be delivered to your home at a price cheaper than dirt or gravel in volume. And it is also found in quantity at most fuel stations where you buy gasoline, so the need to establish a seperate distribution system is not going to be too much of a problem. Indeed, the major oil companies already offer it for sale at premium prices from in
      • One problem with that.. It requires a high amount of energy to dissociate back into its elemental components, with poor energy return. It's heavy, bulky, corrodes certain metals, and is easily contaminated by trace elements. If it freezes, it expands to twice its volume and breaks whatever container it's in. If it's temperature exceeds it's boiling point, you get steam. With predictable results to it's vessel.

        Pelletized hydrogen sounds like a novel idea that it might just work if they can get the energy/wei
  • by Lurker2288 (995635) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @11:46AM (#18349191)
    "The next step is to produce a safe, compact storage system for the compound that is both lightweight and affordable."

    Oh, so you mean, all we have to do now is figure out a way to store hydrogen that's safe, compact, lightweight, and affordable? Well hell, son, why didn't you say so? Our troubles are over!
  • by divisionbyzero (300681) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @11:48AM (#18349223)
    Can we have less free advertising (i.e. press releases) and more articles that are actually informative? I know it's asking a lot... but come on, man!
  • by cnaumann (466328) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @11:56AM (#18349357)
    Here is an idea: create a chain of about 8 carbon atoms and attach 18 hydrogen atoms to this carbon chain. That is about 16% hydrogen by weight! Not only that, it is an easy to handle liquid at normal temperatures and pressures. Imagine simply pouring a liquid into your car for refueling!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Dunbal (464142)
      Here is an idea: create a chain of about 8 carbon atoms and attach 18 hydrogen atoms to this carbon chain. That is about 16% hydrogen by weight!

      Even better, design it with 2 carbon atoms. I'm sure you could fit 6 hydrogen atoms on there AND an oxygen atom - imagine that - you're increasing the hydrogen to carbon ratio from 2.25:1 to 3:1 and you're even providing part of the oxygen for combustion. This theoretical fuel should provide more than enough energy to power a vehicle and comes
  • by Cicero382 (913621) <clancyj@tisc a l i . c o . uk> on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @11:58AM (#18349403)
    Ye Gods!

    TFA is *very* short on details but, as far as I can determine, they have nothing more than a (slightly) more efficient gas/metal adsorbtion method.

    To illustrate *how* short on detail it is, take the quote "The way to do this is to turn hydrogen into a compound -- a solid -- so you can use it when you want, safely, in the amount you want." ... Errr, OK; you mean ICE?

    Hydrogen aDsorbtion (which means sticking to the surface of, rather than being pulled into the structure of (aBsorbtion) onto metals) has been known about for a very long time. Using these techniques does do away with the classical problems of storing hydrogen cryogenically (cold, volatility and risk of explosion) but for a *huge* cost of energy-density/weight ratio. So much so that it isn't really worth the effort. Even if they have achieved a ten-fold improvement over traditional (titanium) adsorbtion methods, it wouldn't be nearly enough to be viable consumer level energy requirements.

  • by Sockatume (732728) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @12:09PM (#18349589)
    Unsurprisingly it's not the formation of solid dihydrogen as you might expect from the amazingly poorly written press release. Like almost everyone else they're working on chemical hydrogen storage, whereby hydrogen-rich compounds are used to store and release hydrogen gas. The remainder are working on physical dihydrogen storage (carbon nanotubes etc).
  • by Lars T. (470328) <> on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @12:12PM (#18349643) Journal
    Powder metal hydride hydrogen generator []

    Abstract A system for generating hydrogen gas for use in a fuel cell includes a powder metal hydride source, a water source, a mixing device and a catalytic hydrogen generating chamber. A method of generating hydrogen for use in a fuel cell includes the steps of: providing a source of dry metal hydride fuel; providing a source of steam; providing a mixing/reaction chamber connected to the source of dry metal hydride fuel and to the source of steam; operating the mixing/reaction chamber to transport the dry metal hydride fuel from its source to a byproduct receptacle and feeding steam into the mixing/reaction chamber such that the steam reacts with the dry metal hydride fuel to produce hydrogen gas and a dry metal powder byproduct; removing the dry metal powder byproduct from the mixing/reaction chamber; and extracting the hydrogen gas from the mixing/reaction chamber.
    Filed: August 28, 2003; Granted: February 20, 2007

    Oh well, it's something else completely, I guess.
  • Like the hydrogen atoms found attached to long-chain carbon molecules.

    Eureka!! They've rediscovered Paraffin!!
  • Pick Any Three (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @12:37PM (#18350057)

    >'The next step is to produce a safe, compact storage system for the compound that is both lightweight and affordable.'

    You want safe, compact, lightweight, and affordable. You can have any three.

  • A pound of Hydrogen 3Oz! ;)
    Winky added for the humor impaired.
  • by fluffy99 (870997) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @12:56PM (#18350437)
    I started laughing when the article stated that burning hydrogen produced zero pollution. Sure, if you live in a pure oxygen environment. Unfortunately, cars have to operate with a supply that's mostly nitrogen and significant portion of the resulting pollution is nitrogen compounds. Besides, the energy density per weight still sucks worse than decent battery technology which really does have zero emissions at the point of use.
  • I just realized that there's this really new way to store hydrogen. It contains as much as 15% hydrogen, much more than the article's 9%, and is perfectly suitable for today's automobile motors. It is a clear liquid, boiling at 99 C, and can be easily pumped. It burns cleanly, and is safe to transport. It is available from biological sources. Hydrogen doesn't evaporate off it.

    The magic compound is called iso-octane, which contains 85% carbon and 15% hydrogen. If we could only solve the small technological p
  • I'll bite. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by horos2c (683085) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @05:59PM (#18355597)
    Ok, lets just assume that this is a real breakthrough, and that we can safely and cheaply:

            * manufacture said compound (AlH3)
            * store said compound
            * use said compound with high efficiency in fuel vehicles

    After all, its volumetric density is fair (I calculate it at .15 kg/L hydrogen * 120 MJ/kg or 5 kwh / liter versus 9.7 kwh /liter for gasoline) and with the extra efficiency boost it IS energy competitive.

    My question is - where are we going to get the aluminum? This would require a MASSIVE production spike in aluminum - to provide a replacement for the ~ 400 million metric tons of gasoline that the US alone uses.

    (source: ine_consumption_country.php []

    Right now, the amount of aluminum we produce globally per year is about 20 times lower - 23.8 million metric tons yearly to be exact (source: ?form=1 []) and aluminum production is very energy intensive (I calculate it as being 6 times *higher* - at 30 kilowatt hours /liter - than the hydrogen is meant to store. That becomes 90 kilowatt hours / liter considering that most of the energy used in aluminum production is electric)

    So the only realistic way of doing this would be to recycle the aluminum and 'rehydrate it'. And there would be a hefty price premium on the creation of the fuel ($12 / gallon at current aluminum prices, which would probably go up dramatically if this took off)

    Overall then this is a mixed bag. The infrastructure costs would be substantial in creating the distribution network for the fuel, both for hydrating and recycling the fuel containers, and the energy cost would be horrific in making the aluminum.

    At 30 kilowatt hours / liter, and 700 grams CO2/ kilowatt hour (if the energy making the aluminum was coal), this corresponds to 19000 grams C02 / liter of fuel, versus the 2000 grams CO2 / kilowatt hour that you get by simply burning the gasoline to go! The aluminum had better be VERY recyclable.

    I'm skeptical. It'd be cool if it works, but we'll see.


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