Lawrence Berkeley National Lab’s Materials Sciences Division is investigating new classes of materials that can efficiently store hydrogen—a very light and volatile gas—aboard cars under less extreme temperatures and pressures. The team is among the recipients of $64 million in DOE funding aimed at making hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and refueling stations available, practical, and affordable for
consumers by 2020.
Projects include an examination of how hydrogen storage properties change with a material’s size, from the nanoscale to the bulk scale (Paul Alivisatos); predictions on what kinds of metals and ligands bind to hydrogen (Martin Head-Gordon); the creation of nanoporous polymers that absorb hydrogen onto tiny cavities (Jean Fréchet); how boron nitride nanotubes can be used to store hydrogen (Alex Zettl); predictions on how new boron nitride nanostructures can more efficiently capture hydrogen (Marvin Cohen and Steven Louie); and synthesizing and characterizing metal hydrides (Tom Richardson). To test these new materials, UC Berkeley’s Samuel Mao will set up instrumentation that measures hydrogen uptake under a range of temperatures and pressures.
In addition to the research at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, Professors Van Carey and Ralph Greif in Mechanical Engineering at UC Berkeley have research experience in the combined heat transfer and absorption/desorption processes that occur in fast response hydrogen storage systems. Carey and Greif have an ongoing research collaboration with Samuel Mao at LBNL on transport phenomena in hydrogen fuel cells. Carey also has research experience in areas related to hydrogen liquefaction: nucleation in cryogenic liquids, two-phase flow and heat transfer, and high performance plate fin evaporators and condensers for cryogenic system applications.
Next Steps: As you can see above there are several projects happening at LBNL and Berkeley. It would be best to check in on the progress of each one.