Novel Nano-structured Materials Tailored for Hydrogen Storage
Molecular hydrogen (H2) is the most environmentally benign chemical fuel that exists in Nature since its oxidation generates energy and water as products, see reaction (1). Its incorporation into existing technologies would represent the beginning of the Hydrogen fuel era with considerable socio-economic and environmental impacts in the world. However, at present there are fundamental scientific problems with the cost-effective production and storage of molecular hydrogen. With respect to the production of hydrogen gas, photosynthetic solar cells are attracting the most attention because they use solar energy and a catalyst to reduce water to its elemental gases.
Future devices that rely on hydrogen production via photosynthetic cells will also require storage systems that efficiently and safely store molecular hydrogen at low operating pressures. The U.S. Department of Energy proposed a standard storage capacity of 6.5 wt % and a volumetric density of 63 kg of H2/m3, but it is still unclear that existing materials are able to meet this target in addition to several other prerequisites related to absorption/desorption control. Our research project is concerned with the development of novel molecular materials designed from the bottom-up to uptake molecular hydrogen at low pressures. This is currently being achieved by engineering the molecular architecture of the materials with capillary-like, aromatic-rich nanopores in which the opposite walls of the cavities overlap their attracting forces towards hydrogen molecules.