Nanotechnology researchers at Deakin University in Australia have made a potentially game-changing discovery in the production, storage and transport of hydrogen: powdered hydrogen.
Faced with polluting fossil fuels and alternatives such as electric cars, hydrogen is a major challenge for our century. However, the technologies sometimes encounter obstacles to democratising a practical and accessible use for all future users.
Hydrogen powder: a new way to produce
Hydrogen production requires a lot of energy, especially if it is derived from fossil fuels, which currently account for 90% of hydrogen production worldwide. Water electrolysis also requires energy to produce dihydrogen, but it can be powered by green energy.
The process discovered by the Deakin University researchers proposes a new method known as “chemical-mechanical”. This method would be less energy intensive and would not create any waste. This process is possible thanks to boron nitride powder, an ingredient that has the particularity of being able to absorb substances. The powder can also be used several times.
The boron nitride is placed in a grinder with gases and small stainless steel balls. The chamber forces the impact between the balls, the powder and the gases by rotating faster and faster. The powder absorbs one gas faster than the others, so it can separate the hydrogen and absorb it.
This method consumes 90% less energy. But that is not the only advantage of this discovery. Storage is also revolutionised.
A double revolution, storage and transport also concerned
The discovery could be a major breakthrough in the transport and storage of hydrogen. Indeed, it is much safer to transport the powder than the gas. To use it, you just need to heat the powder to separate it from the element stored inside. The powder can then be used again. It should also be noted that hydrogen in its solid state can be transported and stored at room temperature, another argument in favour of this method, which reduces the energy costs of this hydrogen production.
The feasibility and consumption of large-scale deployment in industry remains to be studied. Such a process could truly revolutionise all sectors that use, transport and store gas.