Australian researchers have discovered a new economical and safe way to store hydrogen. A discovery that could change many industries.
Researchers at Deakin University in Australia have discovered a new way to transport hydrogen… in powder form. Simpler, safer, and much less energy-intensive operation than current methods.
The huge potential of hydrogen storage in the solid state
Today’s energy transition is a major issue for the preservation of our planet, and it takes many forms. In the field of transportation, electric vehicles based on lithium-ion batteries are currently being preferred in order to reduce our consumption of fossil fuels. The declared end of thermocars in Europe is just one example of this desire.
But electric accumulators also have their limitations, particularly in terms of their storage capacity and the number of recharge cycles. For its part, hydrogen benefits from interesting properties, such as a higher energy density than fossil fuels or electricity stored in batteries. For these reasons (and many more), many countries, such as France, see hydrogen as a promising solution for the future.
However, today hydrogen is largely extracted from fossil fuel deposits, by inefficient extraction methods. It is also necessary to take into account violent explosions that can cause hydrogen to come into contact with oxygen and a catalyst such as an electric spark. All this makes this chemical element dangerous and therefore expensive to transport. This is where hydrogen powder comes in.
Less expensive and less energy consuming extraction
Australian researchers have discovered a way to store hydrogen in powder form using an interesting chemical-mechanical process. for “Trap” Gases in powders, a chemical reaction is triggered by mechanical forces using a low energy grinding system. A cylinder containing steel balls is rotated so that the balls crush the materials inside.
With a precise amount of powder and a certain level of gas pressure, a chemical-mechanical reaction takes place to absorb gas into the powder. The process allows this powder to be transported at room temperature completely safely. The gas can then be released as needed by heating the powder to a certain temperature.
Used powders, boron nitride and graphene “Very stable”. Researchers also point out that these powders only lose “a small percentage” of its ability to absorb with each gas storage and release cycle. Professor Ian Chen compares this new method to that used today:
Currently, the oil industry uses the quenching process. Several gases appear together, for their purification and separation, they cool everything at a very low temperature to a liquid state, and then heat it completely. Different gases evaporate at different temperatures, and this is how they separate. »
An energy-intensive process compared to a mechanical system that can separate hydrocarbon gases from crude oil using less than 10% of the energy required today.