Obama’s plans for a prosperous hydrogen economy cannot come alive if we don’t find the proper storage for the hydrogen, as an energy carrier. The scientific community, funded by their governments and/or private investors, are looking for several solutions to this issue.
General Motors funded such a research, and it is being led by Darsh Kumar, Michael Herrmann and Abbas Nazri, based at the Hydrogen Systems Laboratory at Purdue’s Maurice J. Zucrow Laboratories. One of their findings looks up to a method already used in the past, but discarded or associated with others: compressing the hydrogen by using metal hydrides. Compressing the hydrogen in this manner is problematic, in the way that it becomes very hot when pressure is applied, so it would take about 40 minutes minimum to fill the tank with hydrogen. 40 minutes is not something anybody could afford when it comes to recharging their car on the highway.
So, the researchers studied a way to cool down things by placing a heat exchanger in the hydrogen storage pressure vessel. A tank has many storage compartments with hydride metal, traversed by the heat exchanger, whose standard coolant acts as a radiator and removes the heat. This process would short the charging time to about 5 minutes. That time is bearable by the user. The only aspect to take into account more seriously would be the whole system’s price when it comes to commercialization.