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A new, safe way of storing hydrogen could make it a carbon-free alternative to petrol. The method involves capturing the gas in tiny plastic beads, allowing it to be moved by tanker and pumped into a fuel tank. Let's take a closer look.
A new technology that allows hydrogen to be stored in a cheap and practical way could make its widespread use as a carbon-free alternative to petrol a reality, according to its developers.
The technology is based on a new way of producing nano-fibers from hydrides, materials that soak up hydrogen like a sponge, and then encapsulating them in tiny plastic beads so small they behave like a liquid.
The process is being developed by Cella Energy, a spin-off from the UK's Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, who say the technique allows hydrogen to be released at a much faster rate and at lower temperatures than before.
[Prof. Stephen Bennington, Chief Scientific Officer, Cella Energy]:
"So what are doing is taking these materials and encasing them in plastic and making them into a very fine powder and that improves their properties. It also means you can pump it like a fluid and its safe. It is not going to easily burst into flames."
Hydrogen produces only water when its burned and is considered an ideal solution to cutting carbon emissions from petrol or diesel vehicles, which are estimated to cause 25 per cent of all carbon release.
But until now, attempts to store hydrogen have not been consumer-friendly, so this has not been a viable option. Cella Energy Ltd say their technology would allow people to use the carbon free fuel with their existing car after a few modifications.