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Hydrogen Sponge Offers Breakthrough in Low Cost Storage

One of the key components on fuel cell autos that scientists have been struggling with for years has been hydrogen storage. Compressing hydrogen gas from 5,000 psi – 10,000 psi presents a lot of challenges. And, so does liquefying H2 gas.

So, Peter Schubert and his team of researchers at Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) have created a unique method for storing hydrogen gas at low pressures and temperatures. Porous silicon storage which they have named the Hydrogen Sponge (sort of as this is really the company name) may just hold the key to robust, low cost onboard capture and release of H2.

According to , “This has significant breakthrough potential because all existing hydrogen storage media now require either extremely high pressures or extremely cold temperatures to store amounts of hydrogen beyond 2 or 3 percent of the weight of the material holding it, Schubert said.

“Schubert’s patent theoretically offers the path to reversible, low-cost storage of hydrogen. Laboratory tests show storage up to 6.6 percent by weight when using porous silicon as a solid-state hydrogen storage media.”

My guess is that tanks filled with porous silicon will be a lot lighter than metal hydride tanks which will in turn add to the fuel mileage.

Schubert and his Hydrogen Sponge group are now turning to crowdfunding through Kickstarter, trying to gain money through U. S. research grants and even hitting up Chinese investors to prove the feasibility of this new technology. My hope is that Hydrogen Sponge starts soaking up investors and squeezing out commercial results in the very near future.


About Hydro Kevin Kantola

Hydro Kevin Kantola
I'm a hydrogen auto blogger, editor and publisher interested in documenting the history and the progression of hydrogen autos, vehicles and infrastructure worldwide.

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  1. Avatar

    The question these articles see to avoid – how long does it take to fill the tank?

    It takes longer for hydrogen to find its way into interstitial sites in a solid matrix than for it to be simply pumped into a tank.

  2. Avatar

    My only question is how much hydrogen is safe?

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    This sponge technology is important because it could obviate the need to
    place hydrogen gas under extreme pressure. As far as how long does it take to fill the tank, currently with high pressure tanks a fill takes about 2-3 minutes.

    I don’t think Hydro Kevin is avoiding anything. He is providing a real service getting information out about developing technology. One must realize that not all questions pertaining to emerging and new technology are going to be answered.

    As far as how much hydrogen is safe, I’d ask how much gasoline is safe? Gasoline is far more explosive than hydrogen where hydrogen gas is lighter than air and doesn’t pool like gasoline does.

    How much electricity stored in a battery is safe? Realize that an electrical discharge of sufficient current capacity can kill a person. Even the batteries in hybrid autos are considered dangerous. The advantage of hydrogen fuel cell systems is that smaller safer batteries can be used and hydrogen itself does not kill on like electricity can. There are many green ways to collect hydrogen and then convert it as needed to water in order to produce an electric current.

    Any amount of hydrogen stored on a vehicle is safe, the problem has been safely storing enough hydrogen cheap enough fast enough. Despite the problems, prototype hydrogen fuel cell vehicles equipped with high pressure tanks have gone up to 400+ miles on a single fill. There really isn’t much of a safety issue, but at those high pressures the hydrogen is slowly lost for safety reasons if the vehicle has to sit for an extended period of time.

    Looks like the first generation of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles will use high pressure tanks and stations need to be built for them already. In the long
    run however, I see sponge technology increasing the amount of hydrogen
    that a tank can hold at much lower pressure. For fueling away from a
    station, I foresee trucks that run on hydrogen will autory more hydrogen than can currently be autoried on a truck because of sponge technology.

    The automakers aren’t going into the hydrogen fuel cell vehicle business cold.
    It is 2013 and soon will be 2014. We are a little over a year from when the automakers intend to release fuel cell autos commercially.

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