Earlier this year I had talked about using ammonia borane (H3NBH3) as a chemical carrier for hydrogen. Ammonia borane is a white power that is rich in hydrogen and the H2 can be easily disassociated from the remaining material.
Ammonia borane as a solid is also easily transportable and would do away with the idea of transporting compressed H2 is large, long haul trucks.
The problem with using ammonia borane, however is that it takes significant energy to re-hydrogenate the chemicals that have been left behind. Now researchers at the Los Alamos National Laboratory and University of Alabama have made a discovery that uses less energy than previous methods to re-hydrogenate the chemicals back into ammonia borane.
The researchers discovered that by using a chemical called polyborazylene that ammonia borane could be easily recycled using a low amount of energy. The research team is using the assistance of Dow Chemical in scaling up this process for future commercial use.
Cheap manufacturing, storage and distribution of H2 has been the holdback of charging ahead with a hydrogen based transportation system (not the cars themselves). This new process of extracting hydrogen from ammonia borane and recycling it quickly and cheaply gives hope that a suitable infrastructure can be put in place faster most advocates and critics had previous prognosticated.