Monday, July 24, 2006
Some other tag detected
(July 24, 2006) – Virginia Commonwealth University researchers have developed a
new storage system to hold large quantities of hydrogen fuel that may one day
power cars in a more cost-effective and consumer-friendly way.
theoretical research moves scientists another step closer in the exploration of
alternative fuel sources and methods to store hydrogen fuel.
"We are going
to face an energy crisis at some point in the future. It's not a question of if,
but when. There is a high demand on oil, particularly due to a growing global
population," said lead author Puru Jena, Ph.D., a professor of physics at
"We need an
energy source that is abundant, cost effective and renewable, burns clean and
does not pollute," he said. "Today, approximately 75 percent of the oil
currently available is used for transportation alone. Any solution to the energy
crisis has to take into account the amount of energy we spend on
the most abundant element in the universe and considered an ideal energy
carrier. When hydrogen burns, it produces only water and thus, does not pollute
the atmosphere. For this reason, it is considered an ideal alternative when
discussing theoretical alternatives to fossil fuels.
Journal of the American Chemical Society, published online July 6, Jena and his
team describe the theoretical composition of a material – a lithium-coated
buckyball – that may have the potential to serve as a storage vessel for
hydrogen atoms. A buckyball is a soccer ball-shaped nanoparticle containing 60
carbon atoms. Essentially, the lithium buckyballs absorb the hydrogen, which
means that one lithium atom can store five hydrogen molecules. According to
Jena, the theoretical buckyball, which was designed using computer modeling, has
12 lithium atoms and can store 60 hydrogen molecules.
hurdle in a hydrogen economy is to find materials to store hydrogen," Jena said.
"The storage materials in question need to have the ability to store hydrogen
and allow us to take it out, which means the system must be reversible and
operate under moderate temperatures and pressures."
and experimental work by other researchers has proposed using titanium-coated
buckyballs for hydrogen storage. However, those researchers observed that the
titanium atoms had a tendency to react with each other and form clusters on the
surface of the buckyball. Once clustering takes place, the properties of the
buckyball are no longer effective for storing hydrogen in large
standards require materials that store hydrogen to have a high gravimetric
density of 9 weight percent, and high volumetric density of 70 grams/liter.
that we have designed is capable of storing hydrogen at a gravimetric density of
13 weight percent – so it exceeds the industry target. Also, the volumetric
density is approximately twice that of liquid hydrogen. This theoretical work
has promise, provided one can make it in large enough quantities," said
is part of the Hydrogen Fuel Initiative,
which was set in motion by the U.S. government
in 2003 to address the limited supply of fossil fuels and its rising demand and
costs. Fossil fuels are known to have an adverse environmental effect in the
form of CO2 emissions. Global warming has been the result of
CO2 emissions – the effects of which are observed world
currently collaborating with scientists who will conduct experiments to prove
that hydrogen can be stored in the lithium buckyballs. Furthermore, these
investigators will determine the necessary temperature and pressure conditions
for storage and removal of hydrogen from the lithium buckyballs, and how to
produce these materials in large quantities.
was supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. These findings will
also appear in the August 2 print version of the journal.
Jena collaborated with Qiang Sun,
Ph.D., who is affiliated with the INEST Group, Research Center at Phillip Morris
USA; Qian Wang, Ph.D, a research associate professor at VCU; and Manuel Marquez,
Ph.D., with the Research Center at Phillip Morris.
NOTE: A copy
of the study is available in PDF format by email request from firstname.lastname@example.org.
About VCU and VCU Medical Center
Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 31,000 students in 226 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Sixty-seven of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 13 schools and one college. MCV Hospitals and the health sciences schools of Virginia Commonwealth University comprise VCU Medical Center, one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers. For more, see www.vcu.edu.