Researchers find potentially cheaper way of hydrogen transport

Tokyo [Japan], October 28 (ANI): Researchers in Japan have created a novel material capable of storing hydrogen energy in a more efficient and cost-effective manner, as part of the ongoing drive to transition humanity away from fossil fuels and towards more ecologically friendly energy sources.

The new hydrogen energy carrier can even store energy at ambient temperature for up to three months. Furthermore, because the material is nickel-based, it is quite inexpensive.

The findings were published in Chemistry–A European Journal.

As humanity fights the growing climate problem, one option that academics are focusing on is the shift to alternate energy sources such as hydrogen. Kyushu University has been researching techniques to more efficiently use and store hydrogen energy in order to achieve a carbon-neutral society for several decades.

“We have been working on developing new materials that can store and transport hydrogen energy,” explained Professor Seiji Ogo of Kyushu University’s International Institute for Carbon-Neutral Energy Research who led the research team.

“Transporting it in its gaseous state requires significant energy. An alternative way of storing and transporting it would be to ‘split up’ the hydrogen atoms into its base components, electrons and protons.”

Many candidates have been considered as possible hydrogen energy carriers such as ammonia, formic acid, and metal hydrides. However, the final energy carrier had not yet been established.

“So, we looked to nature for hints. There are a series of enzymes called hydrogenases that catalyze hydrogen into protons and electrons and can store that energy for later use, even at room temperature,” continued Ogo.

“By studying these enzymes our team was able to develop a new compound that does exactly that.”

Not only was their new compound able to extract and store electrons at room temperature, but further investigations showed that it could be its own catalyst to extract said electron, something that had not been possible with previous hydrogen energy carriers. The team also showed that the energy could be stored for up the three months.

Ogo also highlighted the fact that the compound uses an inexpensive element: nickel. Until now, similar catalysts have used expensive metals like platinum, rhodium, or iridium. Now that nickel is a viable option for hydrogen energy storage, it can potentially reduce the cost of future compounds.

The team intends to collaborate with the industrial sector to transfer their new findings into more practical applications.

“We would also like to work on improving storage time and efficiency as well as investigate the viability of cheaper metals for such compounds, ” concluded Ogo.

“Hopefully our findings will contribute to the goal of decarbonization so that we can build a greener and environmentally friendly future.” (ANI)


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