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Pellets of power designed to deliver hydrogen for tomorrow’s vehicles

August 24, 2007 Share This!

New insights to be shared on use of solid ammonia borane for hydrogen storage

Hydrogen may prove to be the fuel of the future in powering the efficient, eco-friendly fuel cell vehicles of tomorrow. Developing a method to safely store, dispense and easily “refuel” the vehicle’s storage material with hydrogen has baffled researchers for years. However, a new and attractive storage medium being developed by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory scientists may provide the “power of pellets” to fuel future transportation needs.

The Department of Energy’s Chemical Hydrogen Storage Center of Excellence is investigating a hydrogen storage medium that holds promise in meeting long-term targets for transportation use. As part of the center, PNNL scientists are using solid ammonia borane, or AB, compressed into small pellets to serve as a hydrogen storage material. Each milliliter of AB weighs about three-quarters of a gram and harbors up to 1.8 liters of hydrogen. Researchers expect that a fuel system using small AB pellets will occupy less space and be lighter in weight than systems using pressurized hydrogen gas, thus enabling fuel cell vehicles to have room, range and performance comparable to today’s automobiles.

“With this new understanding and our improved methods in working with ammonia borane,” said PNNL scientist Dave Heldebrant, “we’re making positive strides in developing a viable storage medium to provide reliable, environmentally friendly hydrogen power generation for future transportation needs.”

PNNL scientists are learning to manipulate the release of hydrogen from AB at predictable rates. By varying temperature and manipulating AB feed rates to a reactor, researchers envision controlling the production of hydrogen and thus fuel cell power, much like a gas pedal regulates fuel to a car’s combustion engine. “Once hydrogen from the storage material is depleted, the AB pellets must be safely and efficiently regenerated by way of chemical processing,” said PNNL scientist Don Camaioni. “This ‘refueling’ method requires chemically digesting or breaking down the solid spent fuel into chemicals that can be recycled back to AB with hydrogen.”

 


 

Don Camaioni and Dave Heldebrant made their presentations at the 234th American Chemical Society National Meeting in Boston, Mass., on Tuesday, August 21, at 11:10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., respectively, in the Boston Park Plaza's Cambridge Room.

 

Department of Energy’s Chemical Hydrogen Storage Center of Excellence partners in this project include the Universities of Alabama, California at Davis, Washington, and Pennsylvania, and Los Alamos National Laboratory.

 

Tags: Energy, Environment, EMSL, Fuel Cells

EMSL, the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory, is a national scientific user facility sponsored by the Department of Energy's Office of Science.  Located at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash., EMSL offers an open, collaborative environment for scientific discovery to researchers around the world. Its integrated computational and experimental resources enable researchers to realize important scientific insights and create new technologies. Follow EMSL on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Interdisciplinary teams at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory address many of America's most pressing issues in energy, the environment and national security through advances in basic and applied science. Founded in 1965, PNNL employs 4,300 staff and has an annual budget of about $950 million. It is managed by Battelle for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science. As the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, the Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information on PNNL, visit the PNNL News Center, or follow PNNL on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter.

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