Carbon based hydrogen storage might be on the horizon

October 09 2008 / by Garry Golden
Category: Energy   Year: 2018   Rating: 1

Hydrogen fuel cells, which produce electricity, are an evolution to modern day batteries. If we can store hydrogen efficiently as a solid, we can expand the use of energy from intermittent solar and wind power. We can also lower the costs and improve performance of electric vehicles. Two recent research announcements hint that cost effective storage could be much closer to reality.

Nanoscale science & surface area
One of the key enablers of storing hydrogen as a solid is high surface area. How much? Can you imagine holding a gram of material with surface area equal to several football fields for storing hydrogen molecules?

Nanoscale (billionth of a meter) material design means high surface area ratio to volume. We can also tap nanotechnology to create storage materials able to bind and release hydrogen molecules at low pressure and low temperature.

Carbon scaffolding for storage
There are a number of ways to store hydrogen as a solid, and also as a liquid. Earlier we featured a look at metal-organic frameworks or MOFs as a viable long term storage material. Today we’ll look at two other carbon-based hydrogen storage systems.

Carbon is a controversial storage medium since it is ‘sticky’ and can often bind hydrogen too tightly. But mixing (or ‘doping’) carbon with other elements can leverage the benefits of carbon’s high surface area and its Lego-like structural design.

‘Doping corn cobs?’
The Department of Energy has awarded $1.9 million to researchers at the University of Missouri and Midwest Research Institute (MRI)

The Missouri team has found that carbon briquettes (derived from corn cobs) then “doped” (or mixed and layered) with boron, have a unique ability to store natural gas with high capacity at low pressure.

While corn cobs hydrogen storage sounds a bit far fetched, one gram of this carbon material has a surface area comparable to a football field. The boron additive to carbon creates binding energies with H2 molecules that might make this a viable storage medium.

Carbon Graphene Layers
Another carbon based solution was announced last week from researchers in Greece using stacked thin sheets of carbon doped with lithium.

The team has modeled a hydrogen-storage structure using one molecule thin sheets of carbon known as ‘graphene’. These vertical columns of carbon are doped with lithium ions to expand its storage capacity.

The calculations suggest storage up to 41 grams of hydrogen per liter, near to the US Dept of Energy’s target (45 grams of hydrogen per liter) for transportation applications.

Via Physorg

Original article- Pillared Graphene: A New 3-D Network Nanostructure for Enhanced Hydrogen Storage

Comment Thread (3 Responses)

  1. Yes, corn based ethanol as the stand alone bio energy strategy was a bit much. Fortunately it was also short lived and we’re onto better things.

    Plant-based biomass is certain to be a part of the mix (hence the need for chemical refining)

    But my personal bet is that the long term bio energy platform will be based on biology like algae biodiesel, hydrogen breathing bacteria, and microbial fuel cells that convert waste directly into electricity.

    Posted by: Garry Golden   October 10, 2008
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  2. Hydrogen is a big part of the solution. Along with revolutions in nuclear, solar, wind and geothermal (is this field tapped out yet?) I can’t fathom why we can’t cut down on our oil consumption.

    Make no mistake, however. Oil will still be part of our society for a long time

    Posted by: Covus   October 11, 2008
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  3. RE: corn comment—meant for another post

    Re: Covus— agreed H2 is only part of the solution set. In fact it’s really only about storage of energy.

    All the others you mentioned – solar, wind, geothermal, et al—are more important as producers of energy. I think H2 can enable growth in these areas by bringing storage into the mix.

    And agreed oil is not going anywhere.

    Lowering consumption? Only if we get rid of the combustion engine can I imagine declining consumption.

    And even w/o using oil in the energy industry, it should grow for decades ahead as a feedstock for materials.

    So I agree that oil is not going away. It certainly has a future (along with coal and natural gas)... we’d be naive to think otherwise.

    Posted by: Garry Golden   October 12, 2008
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