Feeds

Bath researchers gas up green cars

How do you store your hydrogen?

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Researchers at Bath University have developed a new hydrogen storage technique they think could pave the way for greener cars.

Hydrogen-powered cars have long been touted as the ultimate in environmentalist transport because they produce no pollutants - only water vapour. But how to safely store the hydrogen fuel has been something of a problem.

One proposed solution - locking the gas away in a metal lattice - works wonderfully, but only at very high temperatures. An alternative - using a metal organic framework - is only feasible at liquid nitrogen (-198°C) temperatures.

The new technology allows hydrogen to be stored at room temperature and released at the flick of a switch. This solves the problem of how to store hydrogen fuel safely on board a hydrogen-powered vehicle, the researchers say.

The team was investigating the effect of hydrogen on metals when they discovered an organo-metal compound that would absorb hydrogen at room temperature and release it upon application of a small electric current.

This kind of take up and release at the atomic scale makes the material an ideal candidate for solving the hydrogen storage problem, the team explained.

The storage to weight ratio of the Rhodium storage technique is too low to use for an entire tank and still meet US department of energy efficiency requirements*. However, the researchers propose the technology as a short term fuel storage that would power the car until the engine reached the 300°C needed for the metal hydride lattice to kick in.

"Hydrogen has a low density and it only condenses into liquid form at -252°C so it is difficult to use conventional storage systems such as high-pressure gas containers which would need steel walls at least three inches thick, making them too heavy and too large for cars," notes Dr Andrew Weller from the Department of Chemistry at the University of Bath.

"Our new material works at room temperature and at atmospheric pressure at the flick of a switch. Because it is made from a heavy metal (Rhodium), its weight to fuel ratio is low, 0.1 per cent, but it could certainly fill the time lag between a driver putting their foot on the accelerator and a metal hydride fuel tank getting up to temperature."

The team hopes to have a working prototype built in the next two to three years.

The research has been published in the journal Angewandte Chemie in August 2006, and reviewed by Nature in September 2006. ®

*Six per cent of the weight of hydrogen storage systems must be hydrogen, so that hydrogen-powered cars have the same kind of mileage per tank as petrol-based systems.

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
FORGET the CLIMATE: FATTIES are a MUCH BIGGER problem - study
Fat guy? Drink or smoke? You're worse than a TERRORIST
Rosetta probot drilling DENIED: Philae has its 'LEG in the AIR'
NOT best position for scientific fulfillment
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
HUMAN DNA 'will be FOUND ON MOON' – rocking boffin Brian Cox
Crowdfund plan to stimulate Blighty's space programme
Post-pub nosh neckfiller: The MIGHTY Scotch egg
Off to the boozer? This delicacy might help mitigate the effects
I'M SO SORRY, sobs Rosetta Brit boffin in 'sexist' sexy shirt storm
'He is just being himself' says proud mum of larger-than-life physicist
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Getting ahead of the compliance curve
Learn about new services that make it easy to discover and manage certificates across the enterprise and how to get ahead of the compliance curve.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.