Scientists from around the world are working on ways to storage hydrogen cheaply and efficiently at near room temperatures and as at as near room pressures as one can get. Bonding hydrogen atoms to other materials and them releasing them as needed for fuel for cars has been problematic for years.
Italian scientists however think they have found the answer. They are using inexpensive graphene sheets to storage hydrogen. When they want to release the hydrogen they simply buckle the sheets and shake off the atoms.
According to RSC, “Now, Valentina Tozzini and Vittorio Pellegrini of NEST, the Nanoscience Institute of the Italian National Research Council, and Normal School, have used density functional theory and molecular dynamics simulations to show that distorted sheets of graphene – single layers of carbon atoms in a honeycomb configuration – might provide another approach.
“The team’s calculations suggest that if layers of graphene are compressed laterally to form corrugations, hydrogen would find it energetically favourable to chemically bind to the convex tops of the ridges.”
So, once the hydrogen is bound to the top ridges of the graphene sheets, the trick is to getting them to fall off. The Italian scientists say that buckling a graphene sheet is akin to two people shaking the particles off a dusty carpet or throw rug. By reversing the ridges and applying mechanical force the hydrogen will fly off like dust.
Anyway, this is still in the Italian labs and need more research before prototyping can begin. But, it holds promise that one day soon, hydrogen storage will be cheap, efficient and widely available.