Hiroshima University and Los Alamos National Laboratory to hold joint research on hydrogen storage

by Shigenobu Sakai, Staff Writer

On November 17, the Institute for Advanced Materials Research at Hiroshima University announced that it has concluded an inter-department exchange agreement with the Los Alamos National Laboratory in the United States to promote joint research on hydrogen storage materials. They aim to develop non-metal materials that can store a large quantity of hydrogen and are lighter than metal, the main material for hydrogen storage at present. It is said that such non-metal materials would lead to lighter fuel tanks for hydrogen cars.

The two institutions will promote research on hydrogen storage by converting hydrogen to compounds of boron and nitrogen. Theoretically, hydrogen that can be stored accounts for 20 percent of the compounds by weight ratio and is more than ten times as much as that found in nickel-hydrogen batteries for hybrid cars.

The compounds are also lighter than metal. If these compounds are housed in hydrogen tanks equipped in hydrogen cars and fuel-cell cars, the tanks can be expected to be smaller and lighter. Another advantage is that the materials for the compounds are easily obtained as the world is richer in boron and nitrogen than in rare metal, such as nickel.

The Los Alamos National Laboratory, which served as the base for development of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, is now working hard in the area of hydrogen storage materials. The laboratory, recognizing the high level of research being conducted at Hiroshima University, proposed the agreement. The two institutions will conduct research on the materials and hydrogen storage and release, and expand exchanges among the researchers.

(Originally published on November 18, 2009)