Hydrogen has for long been an option to fossil fuels because of its clean combustion by-product, water. It is lightweight, has more energy density and is easy to procure. However, it is difficult to store this gas densely enough to make it safe, yet accessible easily.
Scientists have earlier tried to lock hydrogen into solids, storing large amounts into small volumes and having low reactivity, in order to keep this explosive gas stable. But these solids can hold only a small amount of hydrogen and need more cooling or heating to enhance their energy efficiency.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) scientists have developed a composite substance to store hydrogen comprising nanoparticles of magnesium splattered through a polymethyl methacrylate matrix, a polymer resembling Plexiglas. This malleable nanocomposite quickly soaks and emits hydrogen at low temperatures. Moreover, it does not oxidize the metal after cycling.
Jeff Urban, Deputy Director of the Inorganic Nanostructures Facility at the Molecular Foundry, stated that the development will solve thermodynamic and kinetic problems to find the perfect material combination. It could also offer DOE a better energy solution. The team verified presence of hydrogen in the composite material through spectroscopic testing with the TEAM 0.5 microscope. The experiments showed that the TEAM microscope could help capture the gas directly in the materials. The lab allows for joint ventures between different fields without any inhibitions.
For this experiment, the team used the Energy and Environmental Technologies Division (EETD) at Berkeley Lab, whose research focuses on designing eco-friendly technologies to produce and store power, including hydrogen.