December 5, 2007

New compound may make hydrogen storage feasible for automobiles

Grenoble, France – Scientists at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in France have discovered a new form of lithium borohydride, a promising energy storage system, which could lead to hydrogen storage in automobiles.

Lithium borohydride contains 18 weight percents of hydrogen, making it attractive for use in hydrogen-fuelled cars, but it only releases hydrogen at temperatures above 300C. The ESRF team found a new form of the compound that could possibly release hydrogen in mild conditions. The unexpected discovery has been published in the scientific journal Angewandte Chemie.

The scientists say that there are currently several compounds of interest that are known to either store relatively large amounts of hydrogen or release it easily, but none do both in a way suitable for practical application. The team’s next step will be to apply chemical engineering to the compound to “freeze” the new form at ambient conditions, and check whether it shows more favourable hydrogen storage properties than pure lithium borohydride. Five kilograms of hydrogen are capable of a vehicle range equal to that of twenty litres of gasoline.

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