A new economical and safe way to store hydrogen has been discovered by Australian researchers. A discovery that could transform many industries.
Researchers at Deakin University in Australia have found a new way to transport hydrogen…in powder form. A process that is simpler, more secure and much less energy-intensive than current methods.
The enormous potential of solid-state hydrogen storage
A major issue for the preservation of our planet, the energy transition today takes several forms. In the field of transport, electric vehicles based on lithium-ion batteries are currently favored in order to reduce our consumption of fossil fuels. The announced end of thermal cars in Europe is just one example of this desire.
But electric accumulators also have their limits, particularly in terms of their storage capacity and the number of recharging cycles. For its part, hydrogen benefits from interesting characteristics, such as a higher energy density than fossil fuels or electricity stored in batteries. For these reasons (and many others), many countries, like France, see hydrogen as a promising solution for the future.
However, hydrogen today is largely extracted from fossil fuel deposits, with inefficient extraction methods. It is also necessary to take into account the violent explosions that can cause hydrogen in contact with oxygen and a catalyst such as an electric spark. All of this makes this chemical element dangerous and therefore expensive to transport. This is where powdered hydrogen comes in.
Less expensive and less energy-intensive extraction
Australian researchers have found a way to store hydrogen in powder form using a very interesting mechanical-chemical process. For “trap” gases into 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.
By using a precise amount of powder and a certain level of gas pressure, the chemical mechanical reaction occurs to absorb the gas into the powder. The process makes it possible to transport this powder at room temperature in complete safety. The gas can then be released as needed by heating the powder to a certain temperature.
The powders used, boron nitride and graphene, are “very stable”. The researchers also point out that these powders only lose “a few percent” of their absorption capacity with each cycle of gas storage and release. Professor Ian Chen compares this new method to those used today:
“Currently, the oil industry uses a cryogenic process. Several gases appear together, so to purify and separate them, they cool the whole thing at a very low temperature to a liquid state, then heat it all up. Different gases evaporate at different temperatures, and this is how they separate them. »
A very energy-intensive process compared to the mechanical system that could separate hydrocarbon gases from crude oil using less than 10% of the energy needed today.