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24 August 2007
Cardiff scientists exploring the safe storage of hydrogen to power vehicles as an environmentally friendly alternative to petrol have made a promising new discovery.
Having already developed an organic polymer capable of storing 1.7 per cent hydrogen by weight, Professors Neil McKeown from the School of Chemistry together with Peter Budd of the University of Manchester and David Book from the University of Birmingham can now report the creation of an organic polymer able to store around three per cent hydrogen by weight.
The figure is almost double the amount of hydrogen the group’s preliminary polymers could store last year, and offers hope of producing an organic polymer in the future capable of storing enough hydrogen to successfully power a vehicle.
Commenting on the development, Professor McKeown said: "We are excited to report this recent discovery by our research team of a polymer which can hold around three per cent hydrogen by weight. Although we still have a long way to go, it is clear that we are moving in the right direction, especially as we also have a number of promising new polymers to test. "
In order to make hydrogen a viable alternative to petrol, a material which can store hydrogen at a weight of over six per cent is required. This figure is estimated by the American Department of Energy as the minimum required to make a fuel tank for hydrogen to power a vehicle for 300 miles.
"In order to obtain a polymer that can store useful quantities of hydrogen we need to make a much more porous material," said Professor McKeown, "but one in which the holes are very small so as to fit snugly the small hydrogen molecules."
Professor McKeown and his team are investigating a number of promising methods to enhance pororosity as they attempt to build on their current success and produce a material that can store and release hydrogen safely and effectively. They are also collaborating with Professor Kenneth Harris within the School of Chemistry to develop other types of hydrogen storage materials.
Cardiff is the lead University in the research project, which is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.
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