Researchers at the University of Glasgow are working with two companies, EADS and Hydrogen Horizons, using nanotechnology to alter hydrogen storage tanks for use in future airplanes. The researchers will be using a Hydrogen Horizons Hydrisafe tank and altering the materials used in it on a nanoscale to see if they can squeeze more H2 in it than is presently possible.
According to EADS, “The research will involve testing the Hydrisafe tank with alternative hydrogen storage materials. The tank currently uses the established and commercially available lanthanum nickel (LaNi¬5) storage alloy. The research will look into replacing LaNi¬5 with other hydride materials such as magnesium hydride (MgH2), which has been modified at the nanoscale to allow it to receive and release the hydrogen at an even faster rate.”
The plan is to have a hydrogen fuel cell powered airplane flying above our friendly skies by the year 2014. This won’t be the first manned hydrogen powered airplane to take flight however. But what it is expected to do is increase the longevity of the flights.
Hydrogen powered airplanes that do a few touch-and-goes at the airport are fine, but for commercially powered fuel cell planes to take off they must go the distance – literally. Developing a tank that can accommodate longer flights is a must for this emerging industry.