Baking powder for environmentally friendly hydrogen storage

Jun 14, 2011
Baking powder for environmentally friendly hydrogen storage

(PhysOrg.com) -- Hydrogen is under consideration as a promising energy carrier for a future sustainable energy economy. However, practicable solutions for the easy and safe storage of hydrogen are still being sought. Despite some progress, no generally applicable solutions that meet the requirements of industry have been found to date. In the journal Angewandte Chemie Matthias Beller and his team at the Leibnitz Institute for Catalysis (Rostock, Germany) have now introduced a new approach to hydrogen storage that is based on simple salts of formic acid and carbonic acid.

Practical must take up and give off hydrogen at standard pressure and room temperature, accommodate a large amount of hydrogen in as little space as possible, and release it rapidly and on-demand. tanks store hydrogen in a relatively manageable volume but are very heavy and expensive, as well as operating only at or far too slowly. In addition to organic hydrogen storage materials, such as methane and methanol, researchers have been interested in formic acid (HCO2H) and its salts, known as formates, for the generation of hydrogen. A fundamental problem with the use of these storage materials is the separation of the carbon dioxide formed when the hydrogen is released.

The team from Rostock has now successfully used a special ruthenium catalyst that catalyzes both the release and uptake of hydrogen to establish a reversible, CO2-free hydrogen storage cycle. In this system, hydrogen is released from nontoxic formates and the resulting CO2 captured in the form of bicarbonates. Bicarbonates are a component of many natural stones and are also commonly used as baking powder or sherbet (, NaHCO3).

“Our new concept has a number of advantages,” says Beller, “in comparison to CO2, solid bicarbonate is easy to handle and is very soluble in water. The resulting bicarbonate solution can be catalytically converted to a formate solution under much milder conditions than those required for the reactions to form methane or methanol.” In addition, the harmless solid could easily be stored and transported. Retrieval of the hydrogen occurs at room temperature or even lower. Says Beller, “Most important is that a closed carbon cycle is now possible because the resulting bicarbonate can simply be loaded up with hydrogen again.”

Explore further: New, more versatile version of Geckskin: Gecko-like adhesives now useful for real world surfaces

More information: Matthias Beller, CO2-"Neutral" Hydrogen Storage Based on Bicarbonates and Formates, Angewandte Chemie International Edition, dx.doi.org/10.1002/anie.201101995

Related Stories

Hydrogen storage in nanoparticles works

Mar 31, 2008

Dutch chemist Kees Baldé has demonstrated that hydrogen can be efficiently stored in nanoparticles. This allows hydrogen storage to be more easily used in mobile applications. Baldé discovered that 30 nanometre particles ...

Formic acid in the engine (w/ Video)

Dec 01, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Do ants hold the key to the fuel of the future? Formic acid provides more efficient and safer storage of hydrogen. It is an ideal way to store energy from renewable sources or to power 21st century cars.

On the way to hydrogen storage?

Apr 19, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- The car of the future could be propelled by a fuel cell powered with hydrogen. But what will the fuel tank look like? Hydrogen gas is not only explosive but also very space-consuming. Storage ...

Recommended for you

A greener source of polyester—cork trees

Apr 16, 2014

On the scale of earth-friendly materials, you'd be hard pressed to find two that are farther apart than polyester (not at all) and cork (very). In an unexpected twist, however, scientists are figuring out ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

LariAnn
1 / 5 (2) Jun 14, 2011
This type of technology has to be rushed to trialing and production. Even if it is not yet at optimum efficiency, the actual application of it to real-life problems like powering a vehicle will yield the knowledge necessary to do further development and refinement. This is the future!
Graeme
not rated yet Jun 14, 2011
The problem will be driving around all that carbonate which could amass a considerable amount. Already now carbon dioxide could be captured via sodium hydroxide to stop emissions, and then transport the bicarbonate back to the central plant, that could then convert it into fuel. (Carbon capture and storage) Using Lithium instead may be more efficient as it would weigh less.

More news stories

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.

Low tolerance for pain? The reason may be in your genes

Researchers may have identified key genes linked to why some people have a higher tolerance for pain than others, according to a study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 66th Annual ...

How to keep your fitness goals on track

(HealthDay)—The New Year's resolutions many made to get fit have stalled by now. And one expert thinks that's because many people set their goals too high.