As silly as this first may seem, let’s not throw any alternative off the table just yet when it comes to future fuel sources for hydrogen cars. A team of researchers at Leibnitz Institute for Catalysis (Rostock, Germany) believe that common baking soda holds the key for chemical hydrogen storage that is recyclable.
According to Nanowerk, “Practical hydrogen storage materials must take up and give off hydrogen at standard pressure and room temperature, accommodate a large amount of hydrogen in as little space as possible, and release it rapidly and on-demand. Metal hydride tanks store hydrogen in a relatively manageable volume but are very heavy and expensive, as well as operating only at high temperatures or far too slowly. In addition to organic hydrogen storage materials, such as methane and methanol, researchers have been interested in formic acid (HCO2H) and its salts, known as formates, for the generation of hydrogen.
“A fundamental problem with the use of these storage materials is the separation of the carbon dioxide formed when the hydrogen is released. The team from Rostock has now successfully used a special ruthenium catalyst that catalyzes both the release and uptake of hydrogen to establish a reversible, CO2-free hydrogen storage cycle. In this system, hydrogen is released from nontoxic formates and the resulting CO2 captured in the form of bicarbonates. Bicarbonates are a component of many natural stones and are also commonly used as baking powder or sherbet (sodium bicarbonate, NaHCO3).”
Now, the problem we want to avoid is the release of carbon dioxide or carbon monoxide in the process. According to the researchers, however, this is not a problem because, “Most important is that a closed carbon cycle is now possible because the resulting bicarbonate can simply be loaded up with hydrogen again.”
So, there you have it. The German scientists have been cooking up a promising hydrogen storage solution that may just be the fuel of the future for our production hydrogen cars set to rollout in a few years. And I would like a taste of that when it’s ready. Or as they said in the movie Talladega Nights “Shake ‘n’ Bake!”