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New Polymer Material Can Store Hydrogen More Effectively

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A new type of container for hydrogen gas has been developed by a team of Lawrence Berkeley Lab researchers. The inventors say it can store much more hydrogen than older versions, like pressurized tanks or those storing the gas inside some kinds of metallic molecular chains.

The material that the Berkeley scientists created consists of nanoparticles of magnesium sprinkled through a matrix of polymethyl methacrylate (a plexiglas relative). The advantage of this material is that it’s pliable and absorbs/releases the hydrogen at normal temperatures without oxidizing the magnesium.

“This work showcases our ability to design composite nanoscale materials that overcome fundamental thermodynamic and kinetic barriers to realize a materials combination that has been very elusive historically,” says Jeff Urban, Deputy Director of the Inorganic Nanostructures Facility at the Molecular Foundry, a DOE Office of Science nanoscience center and national user facility located at Berkeley Lab.

“Moreover, we are able to productively leverage the unique properties of both the polymer and nanoparticle in this new composite material, which may have broad applicability to related problems in other areas of energy research.”

The team also investigated the material’s effectiveness with the TEAM 0.5 microscope from the National Center for Electron Microscopy (NCEM).

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