Hydrogen storage is a tricky beast at best. Currently, in the transportation industry, storing hydrogen in automobiles is accomplished either through liquefying the gas or compressing it.
In order to store liquid hydrogen, it must first be super-cooled to -423 F. Cars that carry liquid hydrogen systems (cryogenic) have the issue of hydrogen boil off, where after a few days to a couple of weeks, the hydrogen simply evaporates.
Hydrogen cars that use non-liquified H2 gas and storage tanks have other issues to deal with such as the space needed for the tanks or the weight of the tanks. Compressed hydrogen gas inside metal tanks or tanks made from carbon or some other composite tend to take up a lot of room in the vehicle. On the other hand, metal hydride tanks don’t take up as much room and don’t need nearly as much compression, but they add a lot of weight to the vehicle.
Canadian researchers have discovered a material that can store and release hydrogen at near room temperature without containing any transition metals. Researchers at the University of Windsor have developed a material that uses boron and phosphorous atoms that bonds to hydrogen atoms and believe that this discovery will lead to the development of lightweight storage tanks for hydrogen vehicles.
Inergy Automotive Systems has also stated that it is developing a totally unique hydrogen storage system for automobiles. This system will use a conformable microstructure that will allow vehicles to travel much further before refueling.
The Marie Curie Research Training Network has received $2.5 million from the European Union to develop reactive light-metal hydride composites that can be used for hydrogen storage in automobiles. The goal is to develop light-metal hydride composites that weight much less than the current metal hydride storage tanks and store the gas more efficiently.
These are just a few examples of the research and development that is taking place in the field of hydrogen storage. Resolving some of the main issues surrounding hydrogen storage makes the pathway towards a hydrogen-based transportation industry and hydrogen economy that much more clearly focused.