National Lab Tackles Hydrogen Storage

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, along with Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, will lead a new national Center for Chemical Hydrogen Storage. It is one of three Department of Energy “Centers of Excellence” aimed at enabling use of hydrogen-powered vehicles.

Richland, Washington – May 10, 2004 [] Hydrogen-powered vehicles could reduce both pollution and the need for foreign oil. However, researchers must find a way to carry enough hydrogen in a vehicle to fuel a 300 mile trip. Compressed hydrogen gas tanks take up so much space they cannot provide that 300 mile range, said the lab. The DOE centers will look at other options including metal hydrides, hydrogen stored in carbon materials and chemical storage. DOE selected the LANL/PNNL team to lead a group of industry and university experts who will study solid chemical compounds which can hold and release hydrogen on demand. The goal of the center is to design a practical hydrogen storage system that will be cost effective, energy efficient and also be able to refuel or regenerate with hydrogen. “PNNL’s expertise in theoretical and computational chemistry and catalysis will play an important role in the project,” said PNNL’s project leader Michael Thompson. By investigating and evaluating chemical compounds on some of the world’s fastest computers at the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory, researchers will learn more about which compounds can efficiently store hydrogen in a solid form. “Using supercomputing to do initial theoretical investigations, researchers can identify materials that have the highest potential for success before performing physical experiments,” said Thompson. EMSL is a DOE user facility located at PNNL. The center’s partners will look at ways to improve the properties of chemical compounds currently known to hold hydrogen, and they hope to discover entirely new materials in which to store hydrogen. The center will be a virtual one, in which researchers will collaborate rather than be located together. The research team includes scientists and engineers from both academia and industry including partners from Pennsylvania State University, University of Alabama, University of California at Davis, University of California, Los Angeles, University of Pennsylvania, University of Washington, Millennium Cell, Intematix, U.S. Borax and Rohm and Hass. The Chemical Hydrogen Center is part of a $150 million National Hydrogen Storage Project funded by DOE.
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