Nanocomposite breakthrough for high-capacity hydrogen storage
"This work showcases our ability to design composite nanoscale materials that overcome fundamental thermodynamic and kinetic barriers to realize a materials combination that has been very elusive historically," says Jeff Urban, Deputy Director of the Inorganic Nanostructures Facility at the Molecular Foundry, a DOE Office of Science nanoscience center and national user facility located at Berkeley Lab.
This schematic shows high-capacity magnesium nanocrystals encapsulated in a gas-barrier polymer matrix to create a new and revolutionary hydrogen storage composite material.
"Moreover, we are able to productively leverage the unique properties of both the polymer and nanoparticle in this new composite material, which may have broad applicability to related problems in other areas of energy research."
Urban, along with coauthors Ki-Joon Jeon and Christian Kisielowski used the TEAM 0.5 microscope at the National Center for Electron Microscopy (NCEM), another DOE Office of Science national user facility housed at Berkeley Lab, to observe individual magnesium nanocrystals dispersed throughout the polymer.
With the high-resolution imaging capabilities of TEAM 0.5, the world’s most powerful electron microscope, the researchers were also able to track defects—atomic vacancies in an otherwise-ordered crystalline framework—providing unprecedented insight into the behavior of hydrogen within this new class of storage materials.
Transmission electron micrographs of an air-stable composite comprised of metallic magnesium nanocrystals in a gas-barrier polymer matrix that enables the high density storage and rapid release of hydrogen without the need for heavy, expensive metal catalysts. Credit: Images from National Center for Electron Microscopy.
This research is reported in a paper titled, "Air-stable magnesium nanocomposites provide rapid and high-capacity hydrogen storage without heavy metal catalysts," appearing in the journal Nature Materials and available in Nature Materials online. Visit the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory at www.lbl.gov