Washington, Sept 2 (ANI): Scientists have developed a new method for "recycling" hydrogen-containing fuel materials, which could open the door to economically viable hydrogen-based vehicles.
The method has been developed by Los Alamos National Laboratory and University of Alabama researchers, working within the US Department of Energy's (DOE) Chemical Hydrogen Storage Center of Excellence.
Hydrogen is in many ways an ideal fuel for transportation. It is abundant and can be used to run a fuel cell, which is much more efficient than internal combustion engines.
Its use in a fuel cell also eliminates the formation of gaseous byproducts that are detrimental to the environment.
For use in transportation, a fuel ideally should be lightweight to maintain overall fuel efficiency and pack a high energy content into a small volume.
Unfortunately, under normal conditions, pure hydrogen has a low energy density per unit volume, presenting technical challenges for its use in vehicles capable of travelling 300 miles or more on a single fuel tank-a benchmark target set by DOE.
Consequently, until now, the universe's lightest element has been considered by some as a lightweight in terms of being a viable transportation fuel.
In order to overcome some of the energy density issues associated with pure hydrogen, work within the Chemical Hydrogen Storage Center of Excellence has focused on using a class of materials known as chemical hydrides.
Hydrogen can be released from these materials and potentially used to run a fuel cell.
These compounds can be thought of as "chemical fuel tanks" because of their hydrogen storage capacity.
Ammonia borane is an attractive example of a chemical hydride because its hydrogen storage capacity approaches a whopping 20 percent by weight.
Los Alamos researchers have been working with University of Alabama colleagues on developing methods for the efficient recycling of ammonia borane.
The research team made a breakthrough when it discovered that a specific form of dehydrogenated fuel, called polyborazylene, could be recycled with relative ease using modest energy input.
This development is a significant step toward using ammonia borane as a possible energy carrier for transportation purposes.
"This research represents a breakthrough in the field of hydrogen storage and has significant practical applications," said Dr. Gene Peterson, leader of the Chemistry Division at Los Alamos.
"The chemistry is new and innovative, and the research team is to be commended on this excellent achievement," he added.
The research team is currently working to improve overall chemical efficiencies and move toward large-scale implementation of hydrogen-based fuels within the transportation sector. (ANI)