A team of researchers at an American university has come together to manufacture a material that will help revolutionize the world of hydrogen gas engines.
The research team that led to the production of the material is led by Palestinian professor Omar Farha, a teacher at North American University.
The new product works as a bath sponge as it is able to absorb a large amount of gas and release it at low cost and without the need for high pressure.
The material extracted from aluminum metal contains billions of tiny holes, where the surface area of these holes per gram of material is equal to the area of a football field.
The team of researchers says that the new material is able to store large quantities of gas needed by any mechanism, whether it is a passenger car or a large truck without the need for a very expensive tank to store hydrogen gas.
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Car sales, especially large SUVs, have boomed in the past few years in the United States.
The amount of carbon dioxide produced by transportation vehicles, such as cars, trains, and airplanes, exceeded that produced by electric power plants in the United States.
Efforts in developing electric cars focused on the use of hydrogen gas as it is a power source for cars that do not produce any gas emissions.
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Hydrogen gas is used to power a cell in a car or truck, and if hydrogen is produced using renewable energy sources, it will be a more environmentally friendly fuel than others.
But hydrogen mechanisms have problems and drawbacks.
The hydrogen gas is very light, and in order for a car operating with this gas to travel a hundred kilometers, it needs one kilogram of it. We need a tank with a capacity of 11,000 liters to store this amount of gas under normal air pressure.
In order to overcome this dilemma, the gas is stored under a high pressure, approximately 700 bar, so that the car can carry between 4 to 5 kilos of hydrogen, which is enough to cover a distance of 500 kilometers.
This degree of pressure is equivalent to 300 times the tire pressure of a car, and thus the hydrogen is stored in special tanks that bear this pressure, which increases the cost of cars operating with this gas.
The researchers say that this dilemma can be overcome by developing an alternative method capable of storing large amounts of hydrogen without the need for high pressure.
The researchers say this substance is a mineral and organic compound.
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The inventors of the material called it NU-1501, which is made up of organic molecules and metal ions that self-assemble in the form of a highly porous crystal transparent material.
Professor Omar Farha, head of the research team, likens the new material to a bath sponge but with very regular holes.
And he explains: “If you pour water, you can wipe the water with the sponge and you have to squeeze it if you want to use it again. The new material works on the same principle, we use pressure to store and remove gas molecules from the material.”
He added that the material works exactly like a sponge but in a very smart programmatic way. He pointed out that the main advantage of the material is that it is able to store large quantities of hydrogen and other gases without the need to press them hard, which obviates the need for giant tanks.
Professor Farha emphasized that the material is able to store huge amounts of hydrogen and methane gases and supply the engine with them with less pressure than is required in the fuel cells currently used in cars.
The team arrived to discover this material as part of research it was doing on behalf of the US Department of Defense, as it was developing ultra-high gas absorbing materials to protect soldiers when exposed to nerve gas attacks.
The team indicated that it had received the necessary funding to move forward in its research to implement this discovery in the areas of transport. The material demonstrated its superior ability when subjected to the rigorous tests of the US Department of Energy in the field of storing transportable alternative fuels and methods of delivery.
To fully develop the material and its applications, the team needs to ensure the automobile industry is involved in these efforts broadly.