A team of graduate student researchers at UT Dallas have discovered that a new metallic compound that can store hydrogen gas based on chemical bonds rather than pressure, and it can do that at a fairly low pressure.
“We investigated a certain class of materials called complex metal hydrides (aluminum-based hydrides) in the hope of finding cheaper and more effective means of activating hydrogen,” said graduate student Irinder Singh Chopra, who is part of a collaboration between UT Dallas, Washington State University and Brookhaven National Laboratory.
Chopra and his colleagues discovered that by impregnating aluminum with small amounts of titanium it can be made to release molecular hydrogen at record lower temperatures and pressures.
While it had been discovered before that titanium-doped aluminum can be used as an effective catalyst, the researchers now discovered the specific arrangement needed for the hydrogen to stick to and easily release off the aluminum’s surface, only by slightly increasing the temperature.
Chopra has been helped by Dr. Jean-Francois Veyan, a research scientist, to build a highly-sophisticated ultra-high vacuum machine that added to the experiment’s success.
“A critical aspect of the work was the ability to clean single crystal aluminum samples without damaging the arrangement of the surface atoms,” Veyan said. “Experience gathered from my earlier PhD work on aluminum was very important to help prepare these novel Ti-doped surfaces.”
A recent report by Pike Research has said that hydrogen fuel cell vehicles lack many of the advantages of battery-powered ones, at least for now, and for that reason, their market success will be limited in the near future. That all depends on the storage solutions provided by such brilliant scientists.
Metal hydrides have been discussed about a long time now, and they’re being investigated as the fuel cell industry’s main chance of survival. I guess we’ll be hearing a lot about further achievements in this field during the next few years.