New material could speed development of hydrogen powered vehicles

Oct 06, 2008
Hydrogen Cars
Researchers have designed a material made of graphene sheets for hydrogen storage that could advance development of hydrogen powered vehicles. Credit: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Researchers in Greece report design of a new material that almost meets the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) 2010 goals for hydrogen storage and could help eliminate a key roadblock to practical hydrogen-powered vehicles. Their study on a way of safely storing hydrogen, an explosive gas, is scheduled for the Oct. 8 issue of ACS' Nano Letters.

Georgios K. Dimitrakakis, Emmanuel Tylianakis, and George E. Froudakis note that researchers long have sought ways of using carbon nanotubes (CNTs) to store hydrogen in fuel cell vehicles. CNTs are minute cylinders of carbon about 50,000 times thinner than the width of a human hair. Scientists hope to use CNTs as miniature storage tanks for hydrogen in the coming generation of fuel cell vehicles.

In the new study, the researchers used computer modeling to design a unique hydrogen-storage structure consisting of parallel graphene sheets — layers of carbon just one atom thick -- stabilized by vertical columns of CNTs. They also added lithium ions to the material's design to enhance its storage capacity.

The scientists' calculations showed that their so-called "pillared graphene" could theoretically store up to 41 grams of hydrogen per liter, almost matching the DOE's target (45 grams of hydrogen per liter) for transportation applications. "Experimentalists are challenged to fabricate this material and validate its storage capacity," the researchers note.

Article: "Pillared Graphene: A New 3-D Network Nanostructure for Enhanced Hydrogen Storage", Nano Letters, dx.doi.org/10.1021/nl801417w

Source: American Chemical Society

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User comments : 21

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gmurphy
3 / 5 (5) Oct 06, 2008
graphene!, what can't it do
Modernmystic
3.3 / 5 (7) Oct 06, 2008
My question is what is the cost/benefit ratio of hydrogen vs. gasoline.

If it isn't economical then all the graphene in the world won't make a nit of difference to it's widespread adoption.

It doesn't matter in the end how safe it is, it matters how ECONOMICAL it is. As someone once said "it's the economy stupid"....
Palli
3.4 / 5 (5) Oct 06, 2008
Hydrogen supply is virtually limitless, so in the long run it's economically superior to gasoline and other fossil fuels. All you need is electricity and water to generate hydrogen. Countries with access to "green" electricity have more to gain from development in hydrogen storage making hydrogen more economic to some countries than others.
Egnite
1.8 / 5 (4) Oct 06, 2008
Oh yes, because effieciency and economic values have any importance in todays society. lol. Is carbon a limited resource? I doubt it. Ofc it will be expensive as all new technologies are, it only takes time for the price to drop and the technology to catch on and replace its predecesor. If that wasn't true we'd still be travelling in steam engines imo..
itistoday
3.7 / 5 (3) Oct 06, 2008
Why go hydrogen when you can go electric? Electric cars can use hydrogen to power them, as well as just about anything else!
utdphysmace
3.7 / 5 (3) Oct 06, 2008
@ itistoday

I agree completely, it makes more sense to use hydrogen as a local energy source, say for powering your home/charging your car. Transporting and storing hydrogen for home use is much more practical and much more easily attainable.
deatopmg
2 / 5 (9) Oct 06, 2008
dreamers all! in spite of someone coming up w/ some (in this case; theoretically)practical way to store hydrogen economically. it still takes energy to make it and that energy has to come from somewhere like coal, fossil fuel, or nuclear generated electricity. Then figure in all of the inefficiencies involved in electrolyzing, storing and recovering the hydrogen. Hydrogen is a pipe dream.

liquid fossil fuels contain about 14% hydrogen and that's ~120 g Hydrogen/liter. "Hydrogen economy"is just another scheme to get more grant money to put food on the table.
drill here,
drill now,
pay ourselves!
Soylent
3 / 5 (4) Oct 06, 2008
Hydrogen supply is virtually limitless.


There are no hydrogen gas deposits anyhwhere. So the question becomes, is hydrogen a good way to store energy?

The short answer is "no!", the long answer is "Nooooooooooooooo!".
superhuman
2.3 / 5 (3) Oct 06, 2008
Hydrogen supply is virtually limitless, so in the long run it's economically superior to gasoline and other fossil fuels. All you need is electricity and water to generate hydrogen. Countries with access to "green" electricity have more to gain from development in hydrogen storage making hydrogen more economic to some countries than others.


Gasoline can be made using water, CO2 and energy, all are abundant. Gasoline and liquid hydrocarbons in general are a much better choice for energy storage then hydrogen, way higher energy density, ease of handling, safety, already present infrastructure, etc.
We just need a green way of producing it.
YankInOz
2.8 / 5 (4) Oct 06, 2008
"Gasoline can be made using water, CO2 and energy, all are abundant. Gasoline and liquid hydrocarbons in general are a much better choice for energy storage then hydrogen, way higher energy density, ease of handling, safety, already present infrastructure, etc.
We just need a green way of producing it."

Are we on the same planet? If gasoline can be made from water, CO2 and "energy" please explain and if this is your idea I will meet you in Oslo... you will deserve the Nobel Prize.

If that was the case, then the "oil" barons wouldn't have have us by the cajonies now, would they?

There are other sources of "energy" that are quite abundant - as an example - hydrates. Almost 150 times more hydrates available than all of the oil deposits that have ever existed. Why isn't it being "mined" - because it is too deep and under too much pressure UNDER WATER. It is not cost effective to mine.

Coal gasification - even if you could expand it to realise more than 20% efficiency, is still a very dirty product. CO2 sequesterization is not an easy nor cost effective task.

MHD to Energy using reverse flow magnetics is still in research but may show promise in 10 to 15 years.

All the other forms of syngas (algae, bio-fuels, etc.) cannot meet the demand of an every growing population and developmental growth.

Hydrogen, if produced from electricity, still creates a carbon footprint that is unacceptable.

Solution: Hydrogen produced from solar thermal or photovoltaic processes.I have a photovoltaic hydrogen production system that drives one of my cars. And it works. It is not the Stanley Grey "mystery" system. It is plain and simple and works.

Yes, hydrogen is much better than "Drill, Baby, Drill" but it is a long way off for even the early adopters.
Modernmystic
1.3 / 5 (4) Oct 06, 2008
No matter how you cut it solar/wind will never EVER provide enough energy to meet the exponential growth of our energy needs.

Right now the ONLY viable alternative is fission and hopefully fusion in a few decades. Hydrogen is a dead end for a thousand reasons that have been stated over and over AND OVER again. You're never going to get enough to power a civilization using photovoltaics or glorified wind mills.

Thadieus
3 / 5 (2) Oct 06, 2008
This new learning amazes me, Sir YankInOz. Explain again how sheep's bladders may be employed to prevent earthquakes,....
goldengod
2 / 5 (4) Oct 06, 2008
What a load of Crap!

There are countless studies of solar and hydrogen and wind and all the other renewables being able to provide more than enough energy to meet our immediate needs. Of course Fusion would be good too but you still have to deal with transportation. They are hardly going to let us have them in the back of our car any time soon even if the tech was available.

In the mean time we can all just switch the the plasma spark circuit. That provides immediate massive gains in efficiency and allows your engine to be run on any combustible fuel. Even water...

http://yeswaterisfuel.com
ofidiofile
1 / 5 (4) Oct 07, 2008
the problem with electric is that it still generates emissions; they just end up elsewhere....
Egnite
2 / 5 (3) Oct 07, 2008
...and the problem with oil based fuel is it's
- a pollutant
- increasingly expensive
- ineffeicent
- environmentally damaging during extraction
- more addictive than crack cocaine, apparently
Velanarris
1 / 5 (2) Oct 07, 2008
What a load of Crap!

There are countless studies of solar and hydrogen and wind and all the other renewables being able to provide more than enough energy to meet our immediate needs.
Yes but have you read those studies and seen the proposed economic costs? In order for solar to power then entire United States year round the figures range from 80 square miles to 400 square miles of nothing but photovoltaics running at an efficiency of 65%. Highest photovoltaic effciency is approx 41% as of a few months ago. Wind farms would be even worse due to the restrictions they impose in case of failure. If you've ever seen one malfunction, man, it is a sight to behold. Either setup would cost Trillions to implement and an unknown amount in yearly upkeep.

Of course Fusion would be good too but you still have to deal with transportation. They are hardly going to let us have them in the back of our car any time soon even if the tech was available.
You do realize that transporting a fusion reaction is in the same realm of safety that transporting a hydrogen oxidization reaction would be? Hydrogen is not a safely transportable gas. At least not at economic efficiency, (yet).

In the mean time we can all just switch the the plasma spark circuit. That provides immediate massive gains in efficiency and allows your engine to be run on any combustible fuel. Even water...
Speak to me about this plasma spark circuit. I'm interested.
Soylent
3 / 5 (2) Oct 07, 2008
Are we on the same planet? If gasoline can be made from water, CO2 and "energy" please explain and if this is your idea I will meet you in Oslo... you will deserve the Nobel Prize.


Well that's trivial. Make hydrogen gas from water using electrolysis or a thermochemical process; compress and sell or dispose the oxygen gas. Use hydrogen gas to reduce CO2 into CO(water gas shift reaction, discovered in 1780. Reversible reaction, high temperature favours CO and water, low temperature favours CO2 and hydrogen). Recycle or dispose the water, remove and recycle left-over CO2. Mix hydrogen gas and carbon monoxide and run it over cobalt or iron catalysts; the temperature and H2 to CO ratio will determine the mixture of hydrocarbon that comes out the end(fischer-tropsch, discovered in the 1920s).

It's a horrible way to store energy; even more so when you consider the abysmal efficiency of the small internal combustion engines used in cars and trucks.

If that was the case, then the "oil" barons wouldn't have have us by the cajonies now, would they?


Yes; can't compete with freely available hydrocarbons just sitting there.
CWFlink
1.5 / 5 (2) Oct 07, 2008
I'd like to hear more about the "thermochemical process" for producing hydrogen from water.

The electrolysis process will be able to produce enough hydrogen only if we finally invent a practical fusion reactor, or we start building fision based nuclear power plants on a large scale. This may indeed be the way to go, but environmentalists have a strangle hold on this technology.

As to "drilling"... it is amazing how readily the environmentalists allow 3rd world countries, where there are little to no regulations, to polute their shores and our shared atmosphere, while blocking every reasonable attempt here.

If environmentalist were true to their beliefs, they would be working hard to encourage all oil and nuclear power production to be done HERE, where there are real safeguards and a political system that WILL protect the environment.

It is worthless to protect our environment while allowing the rest of the world to go wild. Note for example, the development of small, portable nuclear power plants being developed by GE in Japan for the export throughout the 3rd world. Now won't that be great for "protecting" us from the evils of nuclear waste... not to mention nuclear terrorism.

Finally, the REAL value of a Hydrogen economy is world peace... IF AND ONLY IF, we develop a way to securely and safely generate the hydrogen through centralized nuclear power plants and distribute that power as compressed hydrogen through out the 3rd world so cheaply that local governments will not "go nuclear" themselves.

So far, hydrogen sounds like the most green, safe and secure way to store and tranport large quantities of energy around the world.... no powerlines, no heavy batteries, small volume and low weight.
Soylent
4 / 5 (4) Oct 07, 2008
I'd like to hear more about the "thermochemical process" for producing hydrogen from water.


If you have a heat source that can withstand about 1000 degrees celsius(something like a HTGR or MSR most likely), you can use the sulfur-iodine process to make hydrogen at an efficiency that may be as high as 50%(thermal, not electric).

This is probably what you're looking for: http://www.hydrog...kard.pdf

So far, hydrogen sounds like the most green, safe and secure way to store and tranport large quantities of energy around the world.... no powerlines, no heavy batteries, small volume and low weight.


Powerlines are a good thing; they're efficient and durable. With hydrogen you're stuck with a leaky pipeline.

Hydrogen gas is bulky, heavy, leaky and inefficient with current storage technologies and fuel cells.

I don't see any reason to suspect that those problems are any easier to solve than to invent a fuel cell that uses a less unwieldy fuel or improving the energy density of batteries or ultra capacitors.
Buster
1 / 5 (2) Oct 10, 2008
Thanks to the electric grid we are now
slaves to the system. If it weren't for
a few greedy fools we would have unlimited
wireless transmission of energy from our
own atmosphere. Now we suffer because of
the greed of bankers and oil tycoons. The only thing we need is molecular manufacturing to become advanced enough for us to produce self replicating systems and within a few years after our energy needs will be met. That..Or we will all be dissolved by the gray goo.
Soylent
not rated yet Nov 15, 2008
"If it weren't for
a few greedy fools we would have unlimited
wireless transmission of energy from our
own atmosphere."

Wireless transmission of energy is horribly inefficient over longer distances.

The EM field strength required to transmit large amounts of power without huge antennas would be far outside any established regulations for non-ionizing EM radiation.

It's not an energy source; background radiation from the big bang and from the galaxy is vanishingly small. It would just be like the grid we have now except a lot crappier.