Feeds

Bath researchers gas up green cars

How do you store your hydrogen?

The next step in data security

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.

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
SCREW YOU, Russia! NASA lobs $6.8bn at Boeing AND SpaceX to run space station taxis
Musk charging nearly half as much as Boeing for crew trips
PORTAL TO ELSEWHERE scried in small galaxy far, far away
Supermassive black hole dominates titchy star formation
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.