My most recent post about using ammonia borane as a chemical carrier of hydrogen for fuel cells was posted in September 2009. In fact, I’ve talked about the possibility of using ammonia borane several other times in the past as well.
On of the disadvantages of using ammonia borane as a chemical carrier of hydrogen is that it takes significant energy to re-hydrogenate the spent chemicals. Researchers at the Los Alamos National Laboratory and University of Alabama are working on solving this issue.
Now, currently, researchers at Purdue University are using hydrothermolysis of ammonia borane (and water) to produce high yields of hydrogen. According to Purdue Professor Arvind Varma, “This is the first process to provide exceptionally high hydrogen yield values at near the fuel-cell operating temperatures without using a catalyst, making it promising for hydrogen-powered vehicles. We have a proof of concept.”
The new process will use waste heat from the fuel cells to separate the hydrogen from the ammonia borane in a reactor. This reactor will produce hydrogen at a safer compression (200 psi as opposed to 5,000 psi to 10,000 psi used in most current hydrogen vehicles).
The next step is for the researchers to scale up their design to work in a hydrogen fuel cell car and carry it at least 350 miles. Transporting an inert chemical compound such as ammonia borane will make a hydrogen refueling infrastructure much easier to build in comparison to using trucks with tanks of 10,000 psi or more on back (using the current gasoline infrastructure model).
So, you see, ammonia borane is not so boring after all.