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

  • Calgary company a leader in waterless fracking
  • Windsor-Detroit bridge can proceed as final obstacles fall
  • PPG Industries expands NA presence with $1 billion coatings takeover
  • First wearable real-time translator device could change how we do business internationally
  • World's first 3D printed auto manufacturing platform
  • Little certainty about toxicity of BPA in food cans despite new report
  • Canada Goose expanding workforce, launching global ad campaign
  • NASA says human Mars landing is feasible by 2030s
  • Aerospace is to Quebec what auto industry is to Ontario, and must be supported: Couillard
  • Bombardier delays delivery of CSeries jets
  • Federal money continues to flow to clean technology innovators
  • Nuclear emergency response centre for Ontario as countries deal with aging reactors
  • Flyboard "hoverboard" becomes real — beyond recreation, this spectacular tech may have practical applications
  • Guidelines released for self-driving cars by Trump administration: "future of safety and mobility" according to some; recipe for "disaster" say others
  • Calgary tech company says radio frequency oil extraction tests were successful
  • Canada's auto sales soar; Toyota passes 100K mark for hybrids
  • NASA Tests Distant Voyager Spacecraft
  • World's biggest gold-copper mine wins government approval in BC
  • BMW unveils i3, the electric car of the future
  • Renewable energy use increased in US in 2012
Scroll to Top