The energy revolution has to start with extending the energy storage capacity, so that mobile users (phones, cars, planes, etc) will have the ability to use their energy at least to the extent that is possible using today’s fossil fuels. That is the case for hydrogen, aimed to power the future electric vehicles. Hydrogen has a great energy storing capacity, but it is itself hard to store in safe conditions, being highly explosive.
Not only US and Japan can take initiatives in this area, and here’s the proof: a couple of researchers from Greece designed a material that almost meets the 2010 standards set by the US Department of Energy (DOE) for hydrogen storage, in terms of weight/pressure supported.
Georgios K. Dimitrakakis, Emmanuel Tylianakis and George E. Froudakis used carbon nanotubes (CNTs) for storing the hydrogen.
So, what are CNTs? They are very tiny cylinders, 50,000 times thinner than the human hair. As they have a very high physical resistance, the scientists hope to use them in making the hydrogen tanks. In their invention, the scientists use something named graphene. Sounds familiar? We talked about graphene-based batteries earlier this month on Green Optimistic. Graphene is a layer of carbon with the thickness of an atom. Graphene is joined into sheets, and those sheets are stabilized by those carbon nanotubes in vertical columns. They also added lithium ions to this material to further enhance its storing capabilities.
The scientists’ calculations showed that their so-called “pillared graphene” could theoretically store up to 41 grams of hydrogen per liter, almost matching the DOE’s target (45 grams of hydrogen per liter) for transportation applications.
“Experimentalists are challenged to fabricate this material and validate its storage capacity,” the researchers note.
Well, this is great news. Pity that this technology can’t be widely used by DIYers on the one hand, and on the other hand it’s better… who knows how many houses would have been blown up otherwise?