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Alternative energy news, and information about renewable energy technologies.

Dec 03

New Hydrogen Storage Method

Posted in Energy Inventions | Fuel Cells | Hydrogen Fuel

Hydrogen Storage Method Hydrogen is an extremely environment friendly fuel as when it burns it releases only water vapor into the atmosphere, but the problem is that it is not easy to store it because it needs to be stored like other compressed gases. A new solid may solve the problem. A nonreactive noble gas called xenon combined with hydrogen and other massive pressure gives rise to a solid that can be later used to store hydrogen fuel. The research paper is published in the November 22, 2009, advanced online publication of Nature Chemistry. The discovery initiates a new line of materials that which could render impetus to new hydrogen technologies.


Xenon is used as an anesthesia, to preserve biological tissues, and it is also used in lighting. Being a noble gas xenon does not typically react with other elements. Researchers used a diamond anvil device to squeeze together xenon and hydrogen.

The lead author Maddury Somayazulu, research scientist at Carnegie’s Geophysical Laboratory, explained: “Elements change their configuration when placed under pressure, sort of like passengers readjusting themselves as the elevator becomes full. We subjected a series of gas mixtures of xenon in combination with hydrogen to high pressures in a diamond anvil cell. At about 41,000 times the pressure at sea level (1 atmosphere), the atoms became arranged in a lattice structure dominated by hydrogen, but interspersed with layers of loosely bonded xenon pairs. When we increased pressure, like tuning a radio, the distances between the xenon pairs changed-the distances contracted to those observed in dense metallic xenon.”

The researchers imaged the compound at different pressures using X-ray diffraction, infrared and Raman spectroscopy. They were really surprised to realize that the response of xenon with the surrounding hydrogen was responsible for the unusual stability and the continuous change in xenon-xenon distances as pressure was adjusted from 41,000 to 255,000 atmospheres.

The researchers were taken off guard by both the structure and stability of this material xenon, according to the lead crystallographer who looked at the changes in electron density at varying pressures using single-crystal diffraction. As electron density from the xenon atoms spreads towards the surrounding hydrogen molecules, it stabilizes the compound and the xenon pairs.

Xenon as a hydrogen carrier is too heavy and expensive but further research in this direction can definitely lead to lighter alternatives. According to Russell Hemley, director of the Geophysical Laboratory and a co-author, “This hydrogen-rich solid represents a new pathway to forming novel hydrogen storage compounds and the new pressure-induced chemistry opens the possibility of synthesizing new energetic materials.”

  • Francisco A Roque

    Very good work and initiative, hope it would open the door to incorporating it to all vehicles and heaters and even industrial uses worldwide, so we may use oil only for other than burning purposes and we may help mother earth recover from so much abuse.

  • http://www.autonopedia.org Mik Fielding

    It never ceases to surprise me the amount of pointless impractical ideas toted around as answers to our energy needs. 41,000 to 255,000 atmospheres? A pressure so colossal that is only practical in the lab. 41,000 atmospheres (atm) is over 600,000 psi (pounds per square inch). Not only would take a huge amount of energy and technology to compress and contain, but also be extremely dangerous to use in practice. Er, next…

  • John S. Majdan

    Methanol contains hydrogen which makes it the best and most practical hydrogen carrier. It is the most simple and easiest alcohol to make, even easier than ethanol. Methanol is used for direct methanol fuel cells which in turn can be used as an energy source for electronic devices such as laptops. It is safe enough to be allowed on board airplanes. I would recommend the book on the subject, “The Methanol Economy” by Nobel Prize winner Dr. George Olah.

  • L.Kassahun

    Really it is very encouraging research result, we are almost near by to the right road for the right energy for this world.

  • Niels

    “Hydrogen is an extremely environment friendly fuel as when it burns it releases only water vapor into the atmosphere”

    That depends on how the hydrogen is used: ‘burned’ with air in a combustion engine, it releases mono-nitrogen oxides (NOx), a well known air pollutant. NOx-emissions would be even higher than with fossil fuel combustion, due to higher combustion temperatures.

    Depending on how hydrogen is produced (currently mainly by steam reforming of natural gas) it will be cleaner (or not) over its life cycle. As Mik above mentioned, hydrogen requires lots of energy to be stored but also to be created. Therefor it will be a very expensive alternative fuel for the coming decades and better alternatives will be available.

  • Manojb Gowda

    A nice idea. But what would be the outer material that would contain hydrogen and xenon?
    Is there any other gas that it could be stored with?

  • Ben Finocchiaro

    do you know who wrote this?


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