To replace gasoline as a fuel, hydrogen would have to be safely and densely stored, and while not possible now it might be in the future thanks to a newly developed acrylic-magnesium nanocomposite. Scientists with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have designed the new polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) and magnesium compound as a pliable nanocomposite that can absorb and release hydrogen at modest temperatures without oxidizing the metal after cycling. The researchers call this a major breakthrough in materials design for hydrogen storage, batteries, and fuel cells.
The researchers work is highlighted in a paper entitled, "Air-stable magnesium nanocomposites provide rapid and high-capacity hydrogen storage without heavy metal catalysts." The research work appears in the journal Nature Materials.
The Berkeley Lab scientists note in the paper that while there are a great variety of potential hydrogen sources, including water, biomass, and organic matter, the challenge that remains is producing a material that simultaneously absorbs hydrogen well enough to form a stable thermodynamic state, but does so weakly enough to release it on-demand with a small temperature rise....