These Japanese Researchers Have Found A New Way To Safely Store Hydrogen

Researchers at Japan’s RIKEN CEMS recently achieved something remarkable—they discovered an inexpensive method for preserving ammonia. And here’s the kicker: this breakthrough could bring us closer to a hydrogen-fueled economy. The cutting-edge work was done by Masuki Kawamoto and his team, and it could totally revolutionize how we store hydrogen.

NH3, or ammonia, has an integral role in fields like textile-making, pharmaceuticals – even fertilizer production. Usually, this stuff has to be frozen cold and stored in hardy vessels. But as you can imagine, that’s a pain (and expensive) to handle.

However, the RIKEN CEMS researchers have found that perovskites, known for their application in enhancing the energy conversion efficiency of solar panels, can also serve as an excellent medium for storing ammonia. Specifically, they discovered that the perovskite ethyl ammonium lead iodide (EAPbI3) reacts with ammonia at room temperature and pressure, transforming into lead iodide hydroxide (Pb(OH)I). This chemical reaction allows for the safe storage of ammonia without the need for specialized equipment.

The retrieval process is straightforward as well. By heating ethyl ammonium lead iodide under vacuum to 122 Fahrenheit (50 degrees Celsius), the stored ammonia is released. In contrast, conventional methods using porous compounds require much higher temperatures for ammonia recovery.

Moreover, the perovskite-ammonia reaction is reversible, enabling the reuse of the perovskite for further ammonia storage. Notably, the perovskite undergoes a color change, turning white when it stores ammonia and returning to its original yellow when the ammonia is released. This color-changing property opens up possibilities for developing color-based sensors to measure the amount of ammonia stored.

Hydrogen, which can be extracted from ammonia, is a highly combustible gas. However, ammonia itself is a safer and more manageable medium for hydrogen storage until it is needed. This breakthrough could have significant implications for advancing the use of hydrogen as a clean energy source.

This discovery presents a viable route towards a hydrogen-based economy by offering a straightforward and economical method for on-site hydrogen extraction in required volumes. The creation of effective and secure hydrogen storage technologies is essential as we work to transition away from fossil fuels for uses like long-distance and heavy transport.

The study’s conclusions, which may have an impact on upcoming energy technologies and sustainable development, were published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society on July 10.

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