Putting the fuel in fuel cells

September 12, 2006

Ammonia borane holds promise as a chemical compound to store and release hydrogen in fuel cell-powered vehicles – and it appears stable enough to offset some safety concerns. These findings were presented by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory researcher Scot Rassat at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society.

High efficiency fuel cells are envisioned as a way to reduce dependence on foreign oil and reduce harmful gas emissions – but they require hydrogen as a power source.

For its relatively light weight, ammonia borane contains a large fraction of hydrogen that can be released as a gas – and it is a stable solid at room temperature. This material can release hydrogen for fuel cell operation by heating it to temperatures near the boiling point of water.

But how does the material hold up to warm temperatures – for example, in a car parked in the hot desert sun? PNNL and Rohm and HAAS Company researchers measured heat flow and temperature over several days to evaluate potential safety issues associated with premature release of hydrogen gas when fuel is stored on-board at relatively high temperatures.

The experiments and calculations both indicate that the stability of ammonia borane relates to its purity and that it can remain stable for many days or longer in high temperatures.

Their research also will help determine if auxiliary cooling is required to minimize the inadvertent release of hydrogen in the tank and keep the vehicle safe.

Source: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Explore further: New efficiency record for solar hydrogen production is 14 percent

Related Stories

CARS: A brand-by-brand look at new 2016 models

September 8, 2015

The 2016 model year has plenty of workhorses, including new versions of the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Titan pickups, Chevrolet Malibu and Kia Optima sedans and the Honda Civic small car.

Cost-effective catalyst converts CO2 into natural gas

September 2, 2015

A discovery made in Leiden helps not only to make natural gas from CO2 but also to store renewable energy. Research by Professor Marc Koper and PhD student Jing Shen shows how this process can be implemented in a cost-effective ...

Recommended for you

Scientists paint quantum electronics with beams of light

October 9, 2015

A team of scientists from the University of Chicago and the Pennsylvania State University have accidentally discovered a new way of using light to draw and erase quantum-mechanical circuits in a unique class of materials ...

Perfectly accurate clocks turn out to be impossible

October 7, 2015

Can the passage of time be measured precisely, always and everywhere? The answer will upset many watchmakers. A team of physicists from the universities of Warsaw and Nottingham have just shown that when we are dealing with ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.