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Nanoreactor grows hydrogen-storage crystals

Field emission scanning electron microscopy reveals the microstructure of the porous activated carbon that can confine hydrogen at the nanoscale. Credit: Joaquin Silvestre-Albero/University of Alicante

Neutron scattering techniques were used as part of a study of a novel nanoreactor material that grows crystalline hydrogen clathrates, or HCs, capable of storing hydrogen. The researchers, from ORNL and the University of Alicante, or UA, in Spain were inspired by nature, where methane hydrates grow in the pores and voids within natural sediments.

The nanoreactor material consists of a chemically optimized, porous activated carbon that can confine hydrogen at the nanoscale with thermal stability as high as -27.7 degrees Fahrenheit. The team used pure liquid water to promote HC formation. They found that nearly 100% of the water converted into HCs in just minutes — at a 30% lower pressure than required in conventional HC production.

“The ability to store hydrogen at lower pressures and higher temperatures is a step toward potentially using these crystalline hydrates for hydrogen storage in stationary and mobile applications,” said UA’s Joaquin Silvestre-Albero.