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Toyota Joins with Savannah River National Lab on Hydrogen Storage Research

Toyota Motor is putting US$2 million into research with Savannah River National Laboratory (South Carolina) to develop a lighter-weight and cost-effective hydrogen fuel storage system for future hydrogen-powered automobiles.

Savannah River National Laboratory, which recently was selected by the DOE as a recipient of funding for research into hydrogen storage, has primarily been a nuclear materials and weapons research site. SRS is the sole processing site for tritium, the radioactive isotope of hydrogen used in nuclear weapons.

Toyota will pony up $1 million as part of the SNRL hydrogen storage project. Toyota will invest the other $1 million on its own research in cooperation with some 60 SRNL researchers who will work into the new Center for Hydrogen Research—just outside the fence of the Savannah River Site.

A coalition of South Carolina institutions—including the University of South Carolina, Clemson University, South Carolina State, and the Savannah River National Laboratory—are cooperating in a push to make South Carolina a recognized center of hydrogen research, and perhaps to duplicate the success had by Texas with the semiconductor industry (earlier post).

The SNRL research project explores the potential role of nanotechnology in hydrogen storage.

This project will examine the effect when these structures are doped with a variety of different metals, and will relate physical and chemical properties, such as size, composition and defects, to the nanotubes’ ability to bond with and to release hydrogen. Researchers will use a combination of laboratory experiments and theoretical modeling to advance their understanding of how metal-doped carbon nanotubes can best be used in hydrogen storage.

SRNL is also working with researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University, the Georgia Institute of Technology and Oak Ridge National Laboratory on the project, which is entitled “Elucidation of Hydrogen Interaction Mechanisms with Metal-Doped Carbon Nanostructures.”

Separately, SNRL researchers are also studying one of the approaches to producing large quantities of hydrogen from a thermochemical process that uses heat from a nuclear reactor—the Hybrid Sulfur Cycle.

The researchers have improved the process’ thermal efficiency by using electricity (also produced by the reactor) as well as heat to split water into hydrogen and oxygen (hence, “hybrid”). SRNL researchers have devised Hybrid Sulfur Cycle flowsheets that exceed 50% efficiency (HHV basis).

(A hat-tip to Jack Rosebro!)


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