A new method for hydrogen storage using materials known as chemical hydrides could make fuel-cell vehicles more economically viable.
The technique is currently being researched by scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory, the
The team believes chemical hydrides can be used as ‘chemical fuel tanks’ to store hydrogen. These compounds could then release hydrogen that could be used to run a fuel cell.
The researchers also believe these chemical hydrides could overcome some of the energy density issues associated with pure hydrogen.
Under normal conditions, pure hydrogen has a low energy density per unit volume. This means it cannot currently be used in vehicles capable of travelling 300 miles or more on a single fuel tank – a benchmark target set by the US Department of Energy.
The researchers found that ammonia borane is an attractive example of a chemical hydride because its hydrogen storage capacity is close to 20 per cent by weight. The chief drawback of ammonia borane, however, has been the lack of energy-efficient methods to reintroduce hydrogen back into the spent fuel once it has been released.
Los Alamos and
Gene Peterson, leader of the chemistry division at
The research team is currently working with colleagues at The Dow Chemical Company to improve overall chemical efficiencies and move toward large-scale implementation of hydrogen-based fuels within the transportation sector.