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Hydrogen Storage

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by graham, Dec 22, 2008.

  1. graham

    graham Active Member

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    When I was an undergrad in the late '80s in Materials Science, there was a professor who had developed a yttrium based alloy he called a "hydrogen sponge" -- it would soak up hydrogen and leave it inert in this alloy until a small electric current passed through it. This would release the hydrogen, which he was hoping would go into a small ceramic-block combustion engine - since hydrogen combustion is around 95% efficient. As a bonus, the process of releasing hydrogen was endothermic, so the hydrogen sponge was also the air conditioner.

    I wonder whatever happened to that technology? It had drawbacks in the alloy was heavy -- and the some of the same hydrogen generation issues that the current fuel cell cars have. But storage and transport worked better than what we have today, and hydrogen ICE should be less costly and more efficient than a fuel cell.
     
  2. Cobos

    Cobos S60 owner since 2013

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    As my thesis work was done in Materials Science in the early '00 I do know a little bit about this. My professor was doing a presentation at my school about current projects earlier this month, and he talked about this. They do have even better materials now for storing hydrogen, mostly as hydrides. The problem is they all require rare-earth metals like Yttrium. They are working on a material using Nickel currently but it isn't as good as the rare-earth materials.

    The reason you don't want to use rare-earth materials is that rare-earths are heavy (minor problem), rare (name sort of gives it away ) so world supply is low, and hence it's expensive to get. So heavy, low world supply, and expensive. For something you need in "every" car that solution is not useful.

    Cobos
     
  3. graham

    graham Active Member

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    Ah! thanks very much for this reply! I have been out of this field of study for a long time, and always wondered "whatever happened?..." Your explanation is perfectly logical.
     
  4. just-an-allusion

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    #4 just-an-allusion, Dec 22, 2008
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2008
    Hmm...would that have been Prof. Omar Yaghi?


    060310_hydrogen_vsml_8a.vsmall.jpg
    This neutron-scattering image shows how hydrogen molecules (red-green circles) connect to what's called a metal-organic framework -- a type of custom-made compound eyed for hydrogen storage applications.

    UCLA, University of Michigan Chemists Report Progress in Quest to Use Hydrogen as Fuel for Cars and Electronic Devices / UCLA Newsroom

    All in all very promising, very promising indeed...Amazing what can be accomplished when the appropriate motivation is provided and development is encouraged by the powers that be.
     
  5. just-an-allusion

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    #5 just-an-allusion, Dec 22, 2008
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2008
    To reiterate:

    Perhaps it is that your professor didn't cover this particular material as "zinc oxide" and "plastic soda bottles" are pretty inexpensive, that is, unless the World's materials commodity market has taken an extremely drastic and somewhat perverse turn for the worse...or perhaps you merely weren't paying attention during this aspect of the professor's presentation"?"
     
  6. Cobos

    Cobos S60 owner since 2013

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    Since that isn't directly his field, he works with mostly SO-membranes, that covered exactly 1 slide in about 20 of them. This is work done by the Institute of Energi Research outside Oslo at a nuclear reactor. They are working on a MgxNix hydride alloy that can store much more than liquid H2. But again the process isn't efficient enough to be a viable solution commercially. So I have no problem the state or companies spending research money on this as at least we're getting good materials science research out of this. And in my eyes, using HFC for planes, boats and other large scale transport seems to make a lot more sense.

    And this is in a nutshell why I think H2 for use in cars is a deadend. They still don't have a good storage solution, and that might be here in a few years. It is symptomatic though that the Honda Clarity the only "mass-produced" H2 FC car still uses the older methods of transporting hydrogen. Contrasting the Clarity to the Tesla Roadster is the clearest sign of where batterytech is now for smaller vehicles compared to HFC. And when the Model S arrives next spring the Clarity also looses it's slight edge in practicality.

    Cobos
     
  7. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    In some ways NiMH (Nickel-Metal-Hydride) batteries are like little hydrogen storage systems with a built in fuel cell. I know it is really just a battery but it is using Nickel to store hydrogen then using that to release electrical energy.

    About NiMH batteries
    Ovonic presentation talking about NiMH and Fuel Cells...
     

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