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New hydrogen storage material could enable smaller, cheaper, more energy dense systems for vehicles; Kubas binding

An international team of researchers, led by Professor David Antonelli of Lancaster University, has discovered a new material made from manganese hydride that could be used to make molecular sieves within hydrogen fuel tanks.

The material—KMH-1 (Kubas Manganese Hydride-1)—demonstrates a reversible excess adsorption performance of 10.5 wt% and 197 kgH2 m−3 at 120 bar at ambient temperature with no loss of activity after 54 cycles. It could enable the design of tanks that are smaller, cheaper, more convenient and energy dense than existing hydrogen fuel technologies, and significantly out-perform battery-powered vehicles. A paper on their work is published in the journal Energy and Environmental Science.

The cost of manufacturing our material is so low, and the energy density it can store is so much higher than a lithium-ion battery, that we could see hydrogen fuel cell systems that cost five times less than lithium ion batteries as well as providing a much longer range—potentially enabling journeys up to around four or five times longer between fill-ups.

—Professor Antonelli, Chair in Physical Chemistry at Lancaster University

Professor Antonelli has been researching this area for more than 15 years.

The material takes advantage of a chemical process called Kubas binding. This process enables the storage of hydrogen by distancing the hydrogen atoms within a H2 molecule and works at room temperature. This eliminates the need to split, and bind, the bonds between atoms, processes that require high energies and extremes of temperature and need complex equipment to deliver.

The KMH-1 material also absorbs and stores any excess energy so external heat and cooling is not needed. This is crucial because it means cooling and heating equipment does not need to be used in vehicles, resulting in systems with the potential to be far more efficient than existing designs.

The sieve works by absorbing hydrogen under around 120 atmospheres of pressure—less than a typical scuba tank. It then releases hydrogen from the tank into the fuel cell when the pressure is released.

The researchers’ experiments show that the material could enable the storage of four times as much hydrogen in the same volume as existing hydrogen fuel technologies. This is great for vehicle manufactures as it provides them with flexibility to design vehicles with increased range of up to four times, or allowing them to reducing the size of the tanks by up to a factor of four.

Although vehicles, including cars and heavy goods vehicles, are the most obvious application, the researchers believe there are many other applications for KMH-1.

The technology has been licensed by the University of South Wales to a spin-out company part owned by Professor Antonelli, called Kubagen.

A storage material with these properties will allow the DOE system targets for storage and delivery to be achieved, providing a practical alternative to incumbents such as 700 bar systems, which generally provide volumetric storage values of 40 kgH2 m−3 or less, while retaining advantages over batteries such as fill time and energy density. Reasonable estimates for production costs and loss of performance due to system implementation project total energy storage costs roughly 5 times cheaper than those for 700 bar tanks, potentially opening doors for increased adoption of hydrogen as an energy vector.

—Morris et al.

The research was funded by Chrysler (FCA), Hydro-Quebec Research Institute, the University of South Wales, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the Welsh Government and the University of Manchester.

Resources

  • Leah Morris, James J. Hales, Michel L. Trudeau, Peter Georgiev, Jan Peter Embs, Juergen Eckert, Nikolas Kaltsoyannis and David M. Antonelli (2019) “A manganese hydride molecular sieve for practical hydrogen storage under ambient conditions” Energy Environ. Sci., 12, 1580-1591 doi: 10.1039/C8EE02499E

Comments

Davemart

Truly impressive stuff.

What I could not get was how long it will take to load it with hydrogen.

In the initial cycles, they took some time, but is this the case when it is operational?
Obviously reasonably fast loading of the module would be needed for transport applications, although stationary storage would work with a slower loading.

Anyone?

HarveyD

These new H2 tanks, at five times cheaper than Lion Batteries for five times the range, coupled with new lighter FCs may become the 5-5-5 energy storage units that future extended range, all weather EVs, have been waiting for.

With much lower price clean H2 available in the near future, FCEVs owners could have their own clean low cost H2 storage unit at/near their home garage for quick refills and other uses?

The H2 economy is not dead.

gryf

From the article
"projects to offer roughly four times the volumetric hydrogen storage capacity of 700 bar incumbents when used in a system at ambient temperature and moderate pressures, without the need for external heat management because of its unique nano-scale heat sinking mechanism."
This is an important aspect of this research. The cost and size of hydrogen storage systems has always seemed to be left out in the discussion of fuel cell vehicles, though one of the most critical areas if they are to be fully developed.

Fill times are briefly discussed in the Supplemental Material on page 17, stating equilibrium times of one minute compared to 5 minutes and a "The total measurement time for 54 cycles was 12 days." Not sure what exact operational times would be.
Interesting also that research was supported by Hydro Quebec.

Engineer-Poet

120 bar is under 1800 psi.  This is a fairly reasonable pressure, far from the 10k+ psi of the 700 bar H2 tanks currently in use.  The adsorbed H2 appears to be another great safety advantage, particularly if the desorbtion pressure is substantially less than that.  The limited volume of gas and the reaction kinetics required to degas the solid medium would limit any explosive potential.

Manganese is a fairly common metal; nodules are found all over the ocean floor.  The resource limits of this technology are far away, so scaling up should present relatively few difficulties.  However, the losses inherent in conversion to and from H2 are still going to apply, and the cost of storage is going to be vastly greater than for liquids and even fuels like propane.  (Propane only has 315 psi vapor pressure at 130 F and the tanks are going to be much lighter and cheaper.)  Even at 197 g/liter H2 density, the energy density of the H2 tank is still only going to be 23.6 MJ/liter not including the tank wall.  The net density is going to be almost 3x as much as petroleum for less energy, not including the steel tank itself.

I'd like to see the renewablistas do a quantitative analysis of what it would cost to make an energy-independent house using H2 storage using this medium, including the amount of steel required for the tank, the cost of the manganese, the initial hydrogen charge to produce the basic hydride, the electrolysis system to fill it, the solar/wind systems to power THAT, and everything else to make a full-up system.  I want to see it all out there for comparison to other possibilities, because these things need to be looked at with open eyes.

Davemart

gryf:

Many thanks. I somehow missed the fill times, and that looks very practical!

I would assume that for instance Toyota would continue right on and use carbon fibre for the tanks on board, although they could be greatly down-specced due to the reduced pressure.

HarveyD

It is difficult to compare apples and oranges when ALL factors are not fully accounted for.

For example, what is the total cost/value of the harmful effects on all living creatures from the capture, transport, refining and use of bio and fossil fuels? Is it $20, $200 or $2,000/ton? A recent study established that cleaning up the Alberta Tar sands residues will cost between $90B and $360+B and the total cost will add up month after month.

The total direct and indirect cost of the damages from the pollution and GHGs created by the 500+ CPPs and 300+ million ICEVs operating in North America would need many super computers to calculate.

Direct e-energy cost varies from under 1 cent/kWh to 30+ cents/kWh. The direct cost of the most abondant REs such as Solar, Wind and Hydro are moving both ways. Recent larger (10 to 15 MW) wind turbines installed on higher towers in high wind quality areas can/will soon produce energy close to 1 cent/kWh. The cost of clean e-energy from large Solar farms with higher efficiency, lower cost solar panels installed in very sunny areas, will match the same low cost by 2030 and will drive NPPs out of the energy market.

Near future REs will produce all the clean low cost e-energy required to produce the clean lower cost H2 required for 2 billion FCEVs and many other uses.

Many posters will have to change their mind on REs, Electrolysers, clean H2 production and storage, mobile FCEVs, H2FCs airplanes and drones, and fixed FCs power units for homes, buildings, industries etc.

HarveyD

It is rather useless and unfair to compare a mature mass produced technology product-services cost versus a very new very low production technology product/service equivalent.The older mature mass produced units will normally win.

However, when new technology products/services mature and are mass produced worldwide and all factors are duly considered, they normally become competitive and beneficial. That's what will happen with e-drones, e-planes, e-buses, e-trucks, e-trains, BEVs, FCEVs, REs, clean H2 Electrolysers, H2 storage units, FCs, and CHPs etc. NPPs are exceptions.

Engineer-Poet

And once again AlzHarvey the broken record posts off-topic, then comes back to the same thread a couple of days later and posts more Greenie boilerplate.

Senile, or paid by the word for propaganda?

william stockwell

Give me a car with a 100 miles battery range (around 30kwh) and a 25kws of fuel cells and a tank that lets me have 350 more miles or how about a car that goes around 150 miles on batteries and has a built in hitch and connections that lets you attach a trailer with 35kws of fuel cells and a big enough tank to go an extra 700 miles- you can see the possibilities, you could get away with hydrogen refueling say every 300 miles or so, people would do the majority of their driving on cheap electricity and a couple times a year take long drives powered mostly on hydrogen.

HarveyD

Yes WS, H2/FCEVs could do all that at an acceptable price, when all major elements such as FCs, H2 tanks, H2/FC/batteries control, batteries, e-motors are standardized and mass produced, in China-India-Mexico-Eastern EU and other countries where low cost laborious work forces exist.

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