Auto Tech

Nanotechnology improves hydrogen storage and delivery

Hydrogen gas stored in plastic microbeads could make fuel cell vehicles safer to use.

Researchers developed a new, low-cost technology that makes hydrogen fuel safer to store and use, inching clean fuel vehicles closer to reality.

Coaxial electrospinning is a new technology developed by Cella Energy, a spin-off from Britain's Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. Also called electrospraying, the process absorbs and encapsulates hydrogen gas in a microscopic sponge formed by nano-fiber hydrides.

The plastic beads storing the chemical hydride are 30 times smaller than a human hair, making the microbeads flow like liquid through a vehicle's fueling system. The beads can safely be exposed to air and require less heat to drive off the encapsulated hydrogen that is used to propels the vehicle. Spent beads are stored in a separate waste tank and get recycled when drivers refuel their vehicles.

For consumers, this breakthrough means they can refuel fuel cell vehicles quickly and safely without fear of the pump bursting in flames.

Most fuel cell vehicles store compressed hydrogen gas in either 5,000 or 10,000 psi tanks. And although all fuel is combustable, fuel cell detractors often warn that hydrogen gas posses a safety threat to drivers. Last year, a hydrogen refueling station in New York exploded during storage tank refueling due to a faulty hose apparatus.

However, this new hydrogen storage technology makes the refueling process much safer. Coupled with hydrogen fuel that's produced using renewable energy, such as SunHydro's solar-powered refueling stations, the new technology offers drivers a fast and safe clean fuel.

Source: Reuters via Yahoo News