Hydrogen storage potentially lighter than batteries

A Dutch sponsored researcher has developed a new way of finding which alloys are best at absorbing hydrogen and come up with a material that has the potential to provide hydrogen storage that is 60 per cent lighter than an equivalent battery.

Dr Robin Gremaud has made use of a technique discovered at the VU University, Amsterdam, where he is based, called, “Switchable mirrors”. Ten years ago, researchers there discovered that certain materials lose their reflection by absorbing hydrogen. Using this technique, he has been able to simultaneously analyse the efficacy of thousands of different combinations of the metals magnesium, titanium and nickel.
The method requires that each of the three metals be eroded from an individual source and deposited onto a transparent film in a thin layer of 100 nanometres by sputtering deposition. This ensures that the three metals are deposited onto the film in many different ratios. When the film is exposed to different amounts of hydrogen, it is clearly visible, even to the naked eye, which composition of metals is best at absorbing hydrogen.
Gremaud is the first to use this method for measuring hydrogen absorption. The British company Ilika in Southampton wants to build a hydrogen analyser using this technique.
The research was funded by NWO Chemical Sciences as part of a national programme, “Sustainable Hydrogen”’.

For more information: http://www.nwo.nl/nwohome.nsf/pages/NWOA_7KDFJG_Eng

Tom Shelley

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