Researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy Lawrence Berkeley
National Laboratory have created a new way of storing hydrogen, making
it more accessible and energy efficient.
has been considered a viable alternative to fossil fuels for some time now. Hydrogen
is lightweight and offers a higher energy density than gasoline. In addition, gasoline
produces harmful greenhouse gases and pollutants while hydrogen's combustion
by-product is water. The problem with using hydrogen on a larger scale is
storage. It must be stored densely and safely, and must be easily accessible.
many attempts in the past have failed -- such as packing large quantities of
the gas into solids, which resulted in the solids only absorbing a small amount
of hydrogen and requiring energy efficiency boosts through heating
and cooling -- scientists have now created a new composite material for
storing hydrogen without compromising density, safety or accessibility.
material is made of nanoparticles of magnesium metal, which is scattered over a
polymethyl methacrylate pattern. This design is capable of both absorbing and
releasing hydrogen without oxidizing the metal after cycling, and at
able to do this through the use of the TEAM 0.5 microscope at the National
Center for Electron Microscopy (NCEM). The TEAM 0.5 is the world's most
powerful electron microscope that possesses high-resolution imaging
TEAM 0.5, researchers watched the magnesium nanocrystals spread throughout the
polymer, and were able to observe any defects in the crystalline pattern, which
offered a peek at how hydrogen acted within this new storage material.
work showcases our ability to design composite nanoscale materials that
overcome fundamental thermodynamic and kinetic barriers to realize a materials
combination that has been very elusive historically," said Urban.
"Moreover, we are able to productively leverage the unique properties of
both the polymer and nanoparticle in this new composite material, which may
have broad applicability to related problems in other areas of energy
also utilized Berkeley Lab's Energy and Environmental Technologies Division (EETD)
in order to test the uptake and release of hydrogen within the material.
Through the use of the TEAM 0.5 microscope and EETD, the team was able to
create a material that may successfully store hydrogen, allowing it to be used
on a larger scale for batteries and
new materials that could help us find a more sustainable
energy solution is at the core of the Department of Energy's
mission," said Kisielowski. "We confirmed the presence of hydrogen in
this material through time-dependent spectroscopic investigations with the TEAM
0.5 microscope. This investigation suggests that even direct imaging of
hydrogen columns in such materials can be attempted using the TEAM
study was published in Nature Materials.