Researchers at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) have discovered that magnesium-based “nano blades” or nano-sized material in the shape of blades could be the next hydrogen storage solution. Some of the advantages of the nano blades is quick storage and release of H2 under low temperatures and the material is recyclable. These are all requirements that the U. S. Department of energy has asked for.
According to RPI, “The scientists created the magnesium-based nanoblades for the first time in 2007. Unlike three-dimensional nanosprings and rods, nanoblades are asymmetric. They are extremely thin in one dimension and wide in another dimension, creating very large surface areas. They also are spread out with up to one micron in between each blade.
“In order to store hydrogen, a large surface area with space in between nanostructures is needed to provide room for the material to expand as more hydrogen atoms are stored. The vast surface area and ultrathin profile of each nanoblade, coupled with the spaces between each blade, could make them ideal for this application …”
The RPI discovery is promising especially the prospect of using nano blades in future hydrogen storage tanks. There are a few bugs to be worked out before commercialization, however. New materials are currently being tested for the nano blades that don’t degrade as quickly as the materials used in this test.
Now that the researchers have a structure that will work, however, it is only a matter of time until the find the right combination of materials with a long lifespan which will be the key to commercialization.