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New Hope for Hydrogen Storage

It seems simple but if put it into practice then we can develop real potential for hydrogen fuels. A new method of “recycling” hydrogen-containing fuel materials could pave the way for commercially viable hydrogen-based vehicles. An article published in world’s leading chemistry journal Angewandte Chemie, makes a claim about recycling hydrogen-containing fuel materials. Los Alamos National Laboratory and University of Alabama researchers working within the U.S. Department of Energy’s Chemical Hydrogen Storage Center of Excellence express a noteworthy progress in hydrogen storage science.
Hydrogen is being considered as the fuel of the future as far as transportation is concerned. It is plenty in nature although it doesn’t occur freely but in association with other compounds. It can be used to run a fuel cell, which proves to be more effective than conventional combustion engines. It does not produce greenhouse gases that are damaging to the surroundings.
There are some serious disadvantages if we are going to use hydrogen in its current form. Transportation fuels should be lightweight to maintain overall fuel efficiency and pack high energy content into a small volume. It’s sad that right now under normal conditions, pure hydrogen exhibits a low energy density per unit volume. It is a technical challenge for its use in vehicles which can traverse 300 miles or more on a single fuel tank. This yardstick is set by DOE.
Chemical Hydrogen Storage Center of Excellence is paying attention to using a class of materials known as chemical hydrides. They are hopeful about confronting some of the energy density issues associated with pure hydrogen. Hydrogen can be freed from hydrides and potentially used to run a fuel cell. These compounds can be termed as “chemical fuel tanks” because of their hydrogen storage capability.
Ammonia borane could prove to be a serious contender to store hydrogen. Its storage capacity is estimated to be 20% by weight. But ammonia borane has one huge disadvantage too and it’s the lack of energy-efficient methods to reintroduce hydrogen back into the spent fuel once it has been released. It means after hydrogen has been released, ammonia borane cannot be satisfactorily recycled.
Los Alamos researchers along with University of Alabama colleagues are working on developing techniques for the efficient recycling of ammonia borane. Dr. Gene Peterson, leader of the Chemistry Division at Los Alamos, says “This research represents a breakthrough in the field of hydrogen storage and has significant practical applications. The chemistry is new and innovative, and the research team is to be commended on this excellent achievement.” The research team made an advance when it discovered polyborazylene.
Polyborazylene is a specific form of dehydrogenated fuel and it could be recycled with relative simplicity with the help of modest energy input. This step can lead to using ammonia borane as a probable energy carrier for transportation purposes.
To move towards large-scale implementation of hydrogen-based fuels within the transportation sector and to improve the overall chemical efficiency the research team is currently working with their colleagues at The Dow Chemical Company, another part in this ongoing endeavor.