An accidental discovery by researchers at Northwestern University has led to an MOF (metal-organic framework) that is natural, biodegradable and even edible plus it stores hydrogen. In case you didn’t catch the title, one of the ingredients is Everclear which is a very high proof alcohol (which I once sipped as a teenager).
The other ingredients (pictured above, though a larger chart is on the Northwestern website) include metal (nickel, zinc, copper or cobalt), plus salt and sugar plus this structure forms into a crystal metal lattice at a nanoscale in which 54-percent of the structure is porous.
MOF’s have been around since 1999 and were developed using petroleum products. This MOF is different in that it uses no petroleum products whatsoever and uses kitchen products instead to form the crystalline metal structures.
According to Northwestern, “Metal-organic frameworks are well-ordered, lattice-like crystals. The nodes of the lattices are metals (such as copper, zinc, nickel or cobalt), and organic molecules connect the nodes. Within their very roomy pores, MOFs can effectively store gases such as hydrogen or carbon dioxide, making the nanostructures of special interest to engineers as well as scientists …
“…For their edible MOFs, the researchers use not ordinary table sugar but gamma-cyclodextrin, an eight-membered sugar ring produced from biorenewable cornstarch. The salts can be potassium chloride, a common salt substitute, or potassium benzoate, a commercial food preservative, and the alcohol is the grain spirit Everclear.”
Now what could this mean for the hydrogen industry? It could mean lighter tanks than metal hydride and H2 stored a low pressures. This would solve two problems including increasing mileage in hydrogen cars due to less weight and more safety due to storing hydrogen at low pressures compared to 5,000 psi or 10,000 psi.
This could also be a boon for hydrogen fueling stations because of the safety features of storing hydrogen at lower pressures. This accidental discovery may have far reaching implications for the hydrogen industry as well as the gas storage industry in general. Plus, when you’re done with the tank, just have it for supper.