Nanotechnology improves hydrogen storage and delivery

This diagram shows the workflow of micron-beads of hydrogen in a fuel cell vehicle.This diagram shows the workflow of micron-beads of
hydrogen in a fuel cell vehicle.

(Credit: Cella

Researchers developed a new, low-cost technology that makes hydrogen fuel
safer to store and use, inching clean fuel vehicles closer to reality.

Coaxial electrospinning is a new technology developed by Cella Energy, a
spin-off from Britain’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. Also called
electrospraying, the process absorbs and encapsulates hydrogen gas in a
microscopic sponge formed by nano-fiber hydrides.

The plastic beads storing the chemical hydride are 30 times smaller than a
human hair, making the microbeads flow like liquid through a vehicle’s fueling
system. The beads can safely be exposed to air and require less heat to drive
off the encapsulated hydrogen that is used to propels the vehicle. Spent beads
are stored in a separate waste tank and get recycled when drivers refuel their

For consumers, this breakthrough means they can refuel fuel cell vehicles
quickly and safely without fear of the pump bursting in flames.

Most fuel cell vehicles store compressed hydrogen gas in either 5,000 or
10,000 psi tanks. And although all fuel is combustable, fuel cell detractors
often warn that hydrogen gas posses a safety threat to drivers. Last year, a
hydrogen refueling station in New York exploded
during storage tank refueling
due to a faulty hose apparatus.

However, this new hydrogen storage technology makes the refueling process
much safer. Coupled with hydrogen fuel that’s produced using renewable energy,
such as SunHydro’s solar-powered refueling stations, the new technology offers
drivers a fast and safe clean fuel.

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