New materials for hydrogen storage on the horizon


United StatesC-Crete Technologies and the US Department of Energy have agreed to work together to develop and market a novel class of nanoengineered materials for storing hydrogen onsite in industrial sites where it is produced as a byproduct.

The hydrogen may then be used to generate energy at the same location where it was created and stored. The new material would be low-cost and scalable, with a desirable balance between storage capacity, charge and discharge rates, and the energy necessary to do so, referred to as the capacity-kinetics-thermodynamics relationship.

Hydrogen potential

For businesses like steel manufacture and utilities, where the output gas stream contains hydrogen that is vented out as waste, hydrogen holds appealing prospects. It’s a perfect synthetic fuel since it’s light, plentiful, and its oxidation product — water — is safe for the environment. It can also be employed in a variety of industrial procedures. While hydrogen production and conversion are well-developed, its widespread use is hampered by a lack of efficient storage. Currently, none of the storage alternatives available on the market meet the expectations of end users, particularly when it comes to long-term storage.

Existing technologies such as liquid hydrogen, hydrides, and salt caverns, which are good for capacity, kinetics, or thermodynamics but not all three, would be vastly improved by the new nanoengineered materials. Hydrides, for example, have a high hydrogen absorbing capacity but a sluggish release kinetics. In comparison to current possibilities, the new material would have a high hydrogen absorption, quick kinetics, and be scalable at a low cost.

Production on a bigger scale

Annual hydrogen output in the globe is currently around 110 million metric tons. To contribute to climate neutrality, hydrogen must be produced and stored on a much bigger scale, and its production must be completely decarbonized. While green hydrogen created from water electrolysis using renewable electricity may be the greatest approach to this objective, green hydrogen presently accounts for less than 1% of the world’s hydrogen supply.