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Hydrogen-storage materials for mobile applications


Mobility — the transport of people and goods — is a socioeconomic reality that will surely increase in the coming years. It should be safe, economic and reasonably clean. Little energy needs to be expended to overcome potential energy changes, but a great deal is lost through friction (for cars about 10 kWh per 100 km) and low-efficiency energy conversion. Vehicles can be run either by connecting them to a continuous supply of energy or by storing energy on board. Hydrogen would be ideal as a synthetic fuel because it is lightweight, highly abundant and its oxidation product (water) is environmentally benign, but storage remains a problem. Here we present recent developments in the search for innovative materials with high hydrogen-storage capacity.

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Figure 1: Volume of 4 kg of hydrogen compacted in different ways, with size relative to the size of a car.
Figure 2: Reversibly stored amount of hydrogen on various carbon materials versus the specific surface area of the samples.
Figure 3: Hydrogen in carbon nanotubes.
Figure 4: Pressure–concentration–temperature plot and a van't Hoff curve (logarithm of the equilibrium or plateau pressure against the reciprocal temperature); values are for LaNi5.
Figure 5: Schematic model of a metal structure with H atoms in the interstices between the metal atoms, and H2 molecules at the surface.
Figure 6: Stored hydrogen per mass and per volume.


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We thank the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (BFE), in contract with IEA, the Swiss Federal Office of Education and Science (BBW), and the University of Fribourg and EMPA for support of our hydrogen-storage research projects.

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Correspondence to Andreas Züttel.

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Schlapbach, L., Züttel, A. Hydrogen-storage materials for mobile applications. Nature 414, 353–358 (2001).

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