Japanese claim breakthrough in hydrogen storage technology

Researchers in Japan say they have formulated a new metal hydride compound using aluminum. They are touting its light weight, absence of toxicity and absence of volatile gases among its desirable traits as a practical fuel source for commercial use, though they admit that its hydrogen content is low.

The worldwide quest for a safe and practical way to store hydrogen for use as an on-board fuel in commercial vehicles has been on for many years. The US Department of Energy called it one of the most “technically challenging” barriers to widespread adoption of hydrogen-fueled vehicles. In 2003 the DOE launched its National Hydrogen Storage Project and issued a “grand challenge” to the world’s scientists and engineers to develop a hydrogen storage method. The methods to be explored included metal hydrides, chemical storage methods, and carbon-based materials.

aluminum-hydrite-research-hydrogen-fuel-cell-storage-Japan-EDIWeekly
Schematic of the aluminum alloy infused with hydrogen (blue dots). Japanese researchers claim it is the first simple-structure interstitial aluminum alloy, and that it has potential for hydrogen storage.

The major downside of current storage technology is that not enough hydrogen can be stored to be really useful as a fuel. Metal hydrides are seen as having potential for hydrogen storage because of their ability to concentrate the gas in solid form. The gas is forced to permeate the spaces, or interstices, between the metal’s own atoms. However, in current research, the ratio of hydrogen to the total weight of the metal used to store it is not better than 2–3 per cent. The current goal is to achieve a minimum of 9 per cent hydrogen content by weight by 2015.

Where the Japanese researchers say they have achieved a breakthrough is in the creation of a simple-structured interstitial aluminum alloy. Previously only complex aluminum hydrides had been created. However, the conditions for synthesizing the aluminum-based hydride are described by the scientists as “extreme.” Synthesis of the compound required a temperature of 800 degrees Celsius at a pressure of 10 gigapascals (1450377.3773 psi).

Nevertheless, they believe that the result is promising and that their compound will show properties that are different from those of other compounds that have previously been created, making it suitable for “practical applications.”

Toyota, meanwhile, has just announced that it will unveil a new hydrogen-fueled car at the Tokyo Motor Show, which opens on November 22. The Toyota FCV hydrogen car uses a fuel-cell stack that draws hydrogen from high pressure storage tanks. They hold enough of the gas to drive the car 520 kilometres.

 

For information about all essential components for industry, visit Daemar.

Did you miss this?

Other Popular Stories

  • Manufacturing continues to grow but exports decline, increasing Canada's trade deficit in February
  • USC Students Blast Rocket Speed and Height Records
  • Windsor-Detroit bridge can proceed as final obstacles fall
  • Wind projects going ahead in Quebec, public not necessarily on board
  • Small business tax rate cut to 3.5 percent will only partially mitigate impact of minimum wage increases, both set for January 1 in Ontario
  • Luxury car sales at record levels in Canada
  • Greater transparency, accountability called for in new homes warranty plan for Ontario
  • TransCanada announces $900 million pipeline expansion
  • Oil prices, production in Canada not likely to reach former levels again: CIBC
  • Strength to build on, but Canada still lags in industrial R&D
  • GM investing in connected car research at Waterloo U
  • Green building technology to grow annually by 10.12% to the year 2023
  • Strong manufacturing rebound in February led by energy sector
  • Canada one of the world’s most energy-intensive countries: 15 percent energy reduction possible through lighting, computer and HVAC retrofitting: Conference Board of Canada Report
  • Canadian company to provide modular housing for refugees in Sweden
  • Molson Coors reports on environmental stewardship goals
  • Air-Breathing battery development increases storage capacity with greater longevity at a fraction of the cost of other batteries.
  • Tech Firms Exploring the Future of Transport
  • Zinc-air battery shows great promise in search for energy storage
  • Volvo will use DME to fuel heavy-duty trucks in North America
Scroll to Top