Creating Recyclable Hydrogen Storage for Cars

Researchers and engineers have put a fuel cell in a vehicle and made it run, but the perfect solution to on-board storage of hydrogen is far from certain. Many different options are available today and new approaches are constantly in the works.

RTI International of Research Triangle Park, N.C., was awarded $1.6 million to develop a hydrogen-fuel storage technology that will provide a stable and recyclable hydrogen source for environmentally clean fuel cell powered vehicles. The project is funded through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and makes use of a material called aminoborane that decomposes when it’s heated and releases nearly 20 percent of its weight as pure hydrogen. Over the next four years, Ashok Damle will lead RTI researchers in an effort to design an on-board fuel system for hydrogen-powered vehicles, and develop a cost-effective manufacturing process for recycling the storage material once the hydrogen content is depleted. “Through such projects, we hope to reduce dependence on foreign oil and facilitate utilization of our renewable energy resources,” Damle said. Collaborating with RTI on the project are the State Scientific Research Center (GNIIChTEOS, Moscow) of the Russian Federation, which will provide expertise in the synthesis of the basic storage material, and ATK/Thiokol of Utah, which will provide industry support for production processes that could lead to commercial use. The team will also prepare a technological and economic feasibility analysis that will recommend whether to move forward with a second phase of research based on the initial outcomes. “We’re proud to be participating in this important research,” said Raghubir Gupta, director of the Center for Energy Technology at RTI International. “Developing these types of technologies will help enable American industry to advance beyond gasoline-powered automobiles.”
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