Fuel Gas Storage: The Challenge of Hydrogen

N M Bimbo, Jessica Sharpe, Antonio Noguera Noguera Diaz, Andrew Physick, Leighton Holyfield, Jemma Rowlandson, Wesley Xu, Abbas Ladha, V Ting, T J Mays

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Among today’s societal challenges, arguably some of the most important are the safe, sustainable and affordable supply of clean water, food and energy. Energy is certainly a crucial challenge as demand is likely to increase greatly, due to the economic development of poorer nations and an increase in world population. This will put enormous pressure on the future exploration and production of energy sources. Perhaps an even more important aspect are current and predicted environmental problems associated with fossil fuels, the most notorious being climate change, which demands that we decarbonise our economies or risk catastrophic consequences. A solution for this problem would be to use a clean, sustainable energy system; one which converts, transports and uses energy safely, with no harmful emissions to the atmosphere and at an affordable cost.

This clean and sustainable energy system would almost certainly require a great share in conversion of energy from renewable energy sources, and probably a clean energy vector, along with electricity, to decarbonise the transport sector and to balance supply and demand in the electric grid. Hydrogen is the one of the best alternatives for a clean and sustainable energy vector as it presents obvious advantages, among those the fact that it has the highest energy per unit mass of any chemical fuel, can be efficiently used in a fuel cell with no emissions, and can be produced, stored, distributed and used through a variety of different sustainable pathways.

One of the biggest problems with hydrogen energy is its storage. Hydrogen is a very low density gas and methods of increasing its density, usually compression at 35 or 70 MPa or liquefaction at 20 K, carry high materials and energy penalties. Some proposed alternatives include chemical storage, which consists of reacting hydrogen with another element and storing it as a hydride or using highly porous materials to enhance the density of hydrogen on its surface. Adsorptive storage of hydrogen can be an attractive solution to the storage problem, as it can store equal amounts of hydrogen in the same volume at much milder conditions of pressure and temperature.

Experiments on different adsorbent materials, including the metal-organic framework MIL-101 and activated carbons AX-21 and TE7, were done to identify and possibly tailor optimal materials for hydrogen storage. The results were analysed taking into account a number of different requirements for a hydrogen storage system, including capacity of the material, gravimetric and volumetric density, optimal operating conditions for storage, thermal management of the system and optimum kinetics and diffusion in adsorbent systems. These results were analysed in a systems approach context and used as input into the design of an improved adsorbent storage system.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014
EventChemEngDayUK 2014 - Manchester, UK United Kingdom
Duration: 7 Apr 20148 Apr 2014


ConferenceChemEngDayUK 2014
Country/TerritoryUK United Kingdom


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