One of the problems with rolling out hydrogen cars and a fueling infrastructure in the short term is coming up with cheap, lightweight and low pressure hydrogen fuel storage tanks. The hydrogen fuel tanks that are available now are either heavy and expensive such as metal hydride tanks or they are under high pressure from 5,000 psi to 10,000 psi.
Some people perceive the high pressure tanks as being dangerous (which is debatable since we have yet to see one explode). A larger issue is that it takes a lot of energy to compress hydrogen to 10,000 psi which drives up the price of this fuel.
Well, the Berkeley Lab, also known as the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) plus General Motors are trying to come up with a new kind of hydrogen fuel tank based on Metal Organic Frameworks or MOFs to deal with this issue. I’ve talked about MOFs several times in the past.
Hydrogen fuel tanks using MOFs, in theory anyway, will be cheap to build plus store and release hydrogen under low pressures. The basic idea is to build a framework of carbon with “exposed metal cations” on different parts of the surface of the structure.
Another trick is to get this exposed metal to bind to as many hydrogen molecules as possible and then releasing them upon demand. The project is being funded by the U. S. Department of Energy to the tune of $2.1 million. With any luck, this tune will turn into a sweet melody a few years from now enabling one more peg to fall in the resistance to hydrogen cars in the marketplace.