Feeds

Scientists find safer way to store hydrogen

Non-morons defuse potential H-bomb

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Australian scientists have come up with a clever way of storing hydrogen that they feel could make it a viable portable fuel source.

Hydrogen is abundant: pass a current through water and you'll make some. Hydrogen-powered fuel cells have therefore been advanced as a potential replacement for the internal combustion engine and even batteries in portable electronics, with Apple holding a patent for Hydrogen batteries.

George W Bush was a fan of the gas: his FreedomCAR program threw a billion dollars at fuel cells among other petroleum-free alternatives. Hydrogen-powered vehicles are also real: an H-Car led the women’s marathon at the Sydney Olympics, way back in 2000, while BMW and Toyota remain keen on Hydrogen as a fuel.

But the fact remains that Hydrogen burns rather well (while it did not cause the Hindenburg's demise its Hydrogen nonetheless burned) and can under some circumstances react nastily with other substances at room temperature. As nobody wants their car to go up in smoke, or for the fuel in its tank to spontaneously become an acid, exploration of fuel cells’ potential has moved slowly as boffins try to figure out the larger problem of just how to build a supply chain around a substance rather more volatile than petroleum.

Enter the Australian team from the University of New South Wales, which has found that compound named sodium borohydride (that’s NaBH4 for all you chemists out there) can absorb lots of hydrogen and then release it under what the researchers describe as “mild pressure conditions” of four mega pascals (4 MPa). That’s rather less than the rating of most scuba diving cylinders and presents a less tricky challenge than storing the gas as .. well ... a gas.

Dr Kondo-Francois Aguey-Zinsou, lead author of a paper on the subject published in ACS Nano, told ABC News NaBH4 acts like a “sponge” for hydrogen, and can soak up so much of the stuff that a conventionally-sized fuel tank stuffed full of the compound would get close to the energy potential of the same volume of petroleum.

But the news isn’t all good: the NaBH4 needs to be nano-engineered and stored in a nickel shell. Even then it only releases some of the stored hydrogen at 50 degrees Celsius and it’s only once the mercury hits 350 that the hydrogen really starts to flow.

The Center for Functional Nanomaterials at UNSW’s School of Chemical Engineering, where the work was conducted, intends to keep tinkering with NaBH4 as it believes there is the potential for “ … major advancements in the design of effective hydrogen storage materials from pristine borohydrides.” ®

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Vulture 2 takes a battering in 100km/h test run
Still in one piece, but we're going to need MORE POWER
TRIANGULAR orbits will help Rosetta to get up close with Comet 67P
Probe will be just 10km from Space Duck in October
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
NASA's rock'n'roll shock: ROLLING STONE FOUND ON MARS
No sign of Ziggy Stardust and his band
Why your mum was WRONG about whiffy tattooed people
They're a future source of RENEWABLE ENERGY
Vulture 2 spaceplane autopilot brain surgery a total success
LOHAN slips into some sexy bespoke mission parameters
Another step forward for diamond-based quantum computers
Square cut or pear-shaped, these qubits don't lose their shape
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.