Apr
10
2006

Chemists working on safe hydrogen storage

Safe storage needed for hydrogen fuel


MOF crystal acts like a sponge for storing hydrogen: This neutron-scattering image reveals where hydrogen molecules (red-green circles) connect to a metal organic framework (MOF), a type of custom-made compound eyed for hydrogen storage applications.

Chemists at UCLA and the University of Michigan have announced a new "crystal sponge" material that can store in its pores nearly three times more hydrogen than any substance known previously.  For now, notes Professor Omar Yaghi, the high storage densities are possible only at very low temperatures, below 77 degrees Kelvin (-321 degrees Fahrenheit). But he is optimistic the limitation is temporary. He believes it's possible to modify the rod-like components to store hydrogen at everyday temperatures. In previous research, Yaghi and colleagues were able to exceed the DOE requirements for methane  (natural gas) with similar materials.

The materials, which Yaghi invented in the early 1990s, are called metal-organic frameworks (MOFs), pronounced "moffs," which are like scaffolds made of linked rods — a structure that maximizes the surface area. MOFs, which have been described as crystal sponges, have pores, openings on the nanoscale in which Yaghi and his colleagues can store gases that are usually difficult to store and transport. MOFs can be made highly porous to increase their storage capacity; one gram of a MOF has the surface area of a football field!

MOFs can be made from low-cost ingredients, such as zinc oxide — a common ingredient in sunscreen — and terephthalate, which is found in plastic soda bottles. "MOFs will have many applications. Molecules can go in and out of them unobstructed. We can make polymers inside the pores with well-defined and predictable properties. There is no limit to what structures we can get, and thus no limit to the applications." The payoff could be hydrogen fuel that powers not only cars, but laptop computers, cellular phones, digital cameras and other electronic devices as well.

Source: National Science Foundation; and UCLA News

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Kendle Tyler's picture
Kendle Tyler says:

What percentage of the human body is made up of hydrogem?

posted on Fri, 04/10/2009 - 1:14pm

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