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Materials for hydrogen storage: a step towards the hydrogen economy?


Safe and inexpensive hydrogen (H2) storage is essential for the development of H2 as a commercially viable energy vector. The development of a new class of storage materials, specifically for niche applications, is a possible route forward to increasing the use of H2 in commercial applications. This report aims to explore such paths.


The review drew on input from ITI Energy’s members.


Currently, liquid bio-fuels, electricity and H2 are seen as potential low or greenhouse gas (GHG) free energy vectors for the transport sector, which represents about one third of energy related GHG emissions. In terms of H2 storage, the focus is currently on potential breakthroughs in hydrides and other materials. In the hydrogen economy, H2 storage materials can aim at two distinct, but interlinked target characteristics: low cost and relatively low H2 capacity for filling stations; and higher cost and high H2 capacity material for on-board storage. However, practical applications are hampered by poor uptake/release kinetics. In terms of challenges, hydrides need to be able to operate at a lower working temperature; improve capacity, while retaining acceptable kinetics; and be produced more cost effectively, by enabling the use of lower grade/purity metal alloys. Potential early niche applications which can be captured by H2 storage materials as they become more competitive are highlighted: an existing small niche as a complement for electrolysers; a speculative application for nitrogen oxides (NOx) reduction in exhausts of heavy duty diesel engines for trucks, potentially worth more than $50million in annual sales, which could be a stepping stone towards setting up an H2 dispensing infrastructure in service stations; a small niche in current and new H2 stations, with growth potential from a few million dollars to more than $50million in annual sales over the long term; and as costs decline, the potential to enter the established H2 cylinder, through a paradigm shift, and access a market segment worth more than $100million in annual sales.


There were no recommendations as this was not within the remit of the report.

Author ITI Energy
Published Year 2010
Report Type Research
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