A promising step towards more effective hydrogen storage

June 16, 2008

An international research team led by Swedish Professor Rajeev Ahuja, Uppsala University, has demonstrated an atomistic mechanism of hydrogen release in magnesium nanoparticles – a potential hydrogen storage material. The findings have been published in the online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS).

It is becoming clear that cars of the future will have to move from using the combination of petrol and a combustion engine in order to combat global warming and potential oil shortages.

One of the prime candidate technologies are fuel cells using hydrogen gas as fuel, chiefly because hydrogen is among the most abundant elements on earth and is able of producing energy through chemical reactions with oxygen in the fuel cells releasing only water - an environmentally benign by-product. Storing hydrogen gas in a compact way is, however, still an unsolved problem.

Much research effort has been directed at absorbing hydrogen in metal powders, forming so-called metal hydrides. Magnesium may absorb up to 7.7 weight per cent of hydrogen, and has commonly been studied for this purpose, especially since fast loading and unloading of hydrogen can be accomplished by adding catalysts like iron and nickel particles.

It has been speculated that the catalysts act as shuttles, helping to transport hydrogen out of the material. With the help of computer simulations of magnesium clusters at the quantum mechanical level, the Uppsala researchers and their colleagues have now been able to show in atomic scale how this happens and why only a small amount of catalysts are necessary to improve the hydrogen release. The extensive simulations were performed at Uppsala University's Multidisciplinary Center for Advanced Computational Science (UPPMAX).

"We expect the findings to aid further technical improvements of magnesium-based hydrogen storage materials, as well as other related light metal hydrides," says Professor Raajev Ahuja.

Source: Uppsala University

Explore further: Artificial photosynthesis energy research powered by X-ray lasers

Related Stories

New step towards future production of solar fuels

January 26, 2015

One way of storing solar energy is to transform the energy directly into a fuel. Researchers at Uppsala University have shown a reaction which makes the process of creating fuel from solar energy more efficient and less energy ...

Recommended for you

Physicists develop new technique to fathom 'smart' materials

November 26, 2015

Physicists from the FOM Foundation and Leiden University have found a way to better understand the properties of manmade 'smart' materials. Their method reveals how stacked layers in such a material work together to bring ...

Mathematicians identify limits to heat flow at the nanoscale

November 24, 2015

How much heat can two bodies exchange without touching? For over a century, scientists have been able to answer this question for virtually any pair of objects in the macroscopic world, from the rate at which a campfire can ...

New sensor sends electronic signal when estrogen is detected

November 24, 2015

Estrogen is a tiny molecule, but it can have big effects on humans and other animals. Estrogen is one of the main hormones that regulates the female reproductive system - it can be monitored to track human fertility and is ...


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.