Hydrogen storage in nanoparticles is a significant energy breakthroughAugust 16, 2012
Hydrogen is one of the most energy dense sources known, and the”Hydrogen Economy” has been the Holy Grail of next generation energy researchers for years:
However, safely and economically storing and utilizing that energy has proven exceptionally difficult. Hydrogen requires large volumes for storage and high temperatures for energy release. Recently, however, a team of Australian researchers reported success at binding hydrogen with nanoparticles for a lower storage volume and releasing the energy at much lower temperatures.
Lead researcher Dr Kondo-Francois Aguey-Zinsou told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that “encasing the compound in tiny nanoshells lets us fine tune their properties, making them reversible at lower pressures and temperatures, allowing them to continually reabsorb and release hydrogen . . .. Initial hydrogen release is now happening at just 50°C with significant release at 350°C.”
The team is building a demonstration project to test the process at scale, but believes that commercial applications may be as close as three years away.
Aguey-Zinsou and colleagues are currently working to better understand the features of the nanostructure, and are building a demonstration project showcasing the technology.
“It will use electricity from solar and wind energy to extract hydrogen out of water using an electrolyser,” says Aguey-Zinsou. “This is then stored in a tank of sodium borohydride and used to drive a fuel cell to generate electricity at night or when there’s no wind.”
“The first commercial applications could be just three or four years away.