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Safe new storage method could be key to future of hydrogen-powered vehicles


Hydrogen is often described as the fuel of the future, particularly when applied to hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles. One of the main obstacles facing this technology – a potential solution to future sustainable transport – has been the lack of a lightweight, safe on-board hydrogen storage material.

A major new discovery by scientists at the universities of Oxford, Cambridge and Cardiff in the UK, and the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) in Saudi Arabia, has shown that hydrocarbon wax rapidly releases large amounts of hydrogen when activated with catalysts and microwaves.

This discovery of a potential safe storage method, reported in the Nature journal Scientific Reports, could pave the way for widespread adoption of hydrogen-fuelled cars.

Hydrocarbons are natural, hydrogen-rich resources with well-established infrastructures. The research team has developed highly selective catalysts with the assistance of microwave irradiation, which can extract hydrogen from hydrocarbons instantly through a non-oxidative dehydrogenation process. This will help unlock the longstanding bottleneck hindering the widespread adoption of hydrogen fuel technology.

The paper 'Wax: A benign hydrogen-storage material that rapidly releases H2-rich gases through microwave-assisted catalytic decomposition' is published in the journal Scientific Reports.