Adsorbent materials for hydrogen storage

Jun 27, 2005

A research team from the Public University of Navarra has started a study of the design and development of absorbent materials that enable the storage of hydrogen, a clean fuel that can be used as an alternative to those derived from fossil fuels, such as petrol and diesel. The storage of this element is, in fact, a key process in the change over from internal combustion engines – contaminating and not very efficient, to cars with hydrogen fuel cells.

The project, entitled, Development of materials for storage of hydrogen by means of physical adsorption.

At present, hydrogen production "is not a problem". For some years now, hydrogen has been obtained by means of catalytic reforming or by the electrolysis of water. However, the question hanging over the use of hydrogen as a fuel is its generation or storage in the quantities required for a means of transport and without it being dangerous – as we are dealing with a highly inflammable gas. Under normal conditions hydrogen is in a gaseous state and thus has to be kept under high pressure or, if we wish to reduce the pressure, the storage temperature has to be lowered. These two circumstances give rise to technological difficulties, apart from the added safety ones.

There are various ways to store hydrogen: pressurised, liquid, absorbed into metals (as hydrides) and physiadsorbed in suitable materials. This last method, involving the "physical adsorption onto porous materials", is what is being developed in this current research project, the end of which is projected for next year. In concrete, the study is being carried out employing nanoporous materials the pore size of which is in the range of 0 to 10-6 metres.

The mentioned research team has commenced work on three families of materials: activated carbons, zeolites and stacked clays. These materials fulfil four requisites: they have mechanical resistance and are safe, apart from being light and cheap.

Storage based on physiadsorbtion provides a potentially higher energy efficiency than the rest of the mentioned storage options, given that the hydrogen is retained at a low temperature and 100% of the hydrogen adsorbed can be recovered. The low boiling point of hydrogen (-253ºC) makes it necessary to employ temperatures pf about -196ºC in order to attain sufficient amount of adsorbed hydrogen. The freeing of the physiadsorbed hydrogen can be, moreover, a rapid process and can be carried out easily with small changes of pressure and/or temperature.

Source: Elhuyar Fundazioay

Explore further: What happened to savings for the future?

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Future batteries: Lithium-sulfur with a graphene wrapper

Dec 16, 2014

What do you get when you wrap a thin sheet of the "wonder material" graphene around a novel multifunctional sulfur electrode that combines an energy storage unit and electron/ion transfer networks? An extremely ...

Muons help understand mechanism behind hydrogen storage

Nov 18, 2014

It is ever more necessary to find alternative ways to store energy. Energy storage is required when energy is supplied intermittently, as for instance for wind power, or for mobile applications like cars. Hydrogen is a promising ...

Recommended for you

All together now – three evolutionary perks of singing

Dec 24, 2014

We're enjoying the one time of year when protests of "I can't sing!" are laid aside and we sing carols with others. For some this is a once-a-year special event; the rest of the year is left to the professionals ...

Fish eye sheds light on color vision

Dec 23, 2014

A fish eye from a primitive time when Earth was but one single continent, has yielded evidence of color vision dating back at least 300 million years, researchers said Tuesday.

User comments : 0

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.