Is hydrogen really the fuel of the future? It certainly is the cleanest (and most expensive) alternative fuel option out there, and developing a sufficient infrastructure is proving bothersome to say the least. But researchers at the University of Oregon have developed a liquid-based hydrogen storage solution that could be easier to transport and store.
A Not-So-Cool IdeaHydrogen can be stored either as a gas, or as a liquid. Storing liquid hydrogen, however, requires extremely low temperatures of -423 F/252 C, while keeping it under very high pressure pressure. Any hotter, and the hydrogen will boil off. As you can imagine, keeping something that cool constantly requires some very intricate, very expensive technology. Gaseous hydrogen requires being kept under pressure between 5,000 and 10,000 psi, not exactly easy or cheap either, and much more difficult to transport and store.
University of Oregon researchers, led by Shih-Yuan Liu, have managed to put together a nitrogen-based liquid storage solution for hydrogen that is safe and stable in room temperatures, in open air, and will release hydrogen in a controlled, safe way at sustainable temperatures. In other words, clean, stable, usable fuel that can utilize existing infrastructure.
I’ll be honest and say that I don’t really understand the chemistry, at all, behind what researchers are doing with this hydrogen storage solution. I do understand however, that a liquid-hydrogen fuel that didn’t need to be stored at extreme temperatures could then utilize America’s existing pipeline infrastructure. That would take away one argument against hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, although they still have a long way to go before being either affordable or practical in today’s petroleum-addicted world.
The liquid hydrogen fuel isn’t perfect, however. The chemical reactions could potentially produce toxic elements that would be bad for the fuel cell itself. In other words, a fuel that could eat away at its engine. Not exactly a good thing, but a major step forward, nonetheless.Source:Green Car Congress | Image:Mona Makela via Shutterstock
A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, Chris can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.