Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley have discovered a new porous polymer that holds promise for hydrogen storage. Frantisek Svec and colleagues from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have developed a highly porous polyaniline in a mesh-like structure that has immense surface area and a strong affinity for hydrogen molecules.
The new polyaniline mesh has eight times the surface area of other previous materials due to a hypercrosslinking method employed in creating the substance on a nanoscale. This new method of swelling the polyaniline in solvent has led to the porous quality and extreme surface area of the material.
If the Berkeley researchers are successful in the further development of this polyaniline mesh, this will mean that hydrogen won’t have to be compressed to 5,000 to 10,000 psi, which is the method employed by most fuel cell autos today. It will also mean that metal hydride storage can be replaced with lighter materials, reducing the weight of the vehicle substantially.