PHOTO CAPTION: Cross section of C.En hydrogen storage tank concept.

Russian Space Program Could Offer Hydrogen Storage Breakthrough

Hydrogen is stored in lightweight bundles of thin, strong glass tubes called capillary arrays.

Published: 15-Dec-2009

Israeli entrepreneur Moshe Stern admits he didn't know much about alternative energy when Russian scientist Evgeny Velikhov first approached him in 2005 about a novel technology for safely storing hydrogen gas. But four years later, the 62-year-old Stern has become an expert—and a believer. He is convinced that the Russian invention could play a major role in helping scientific institutions and industrial giants harness the commercial potential of hydrogen as a green energy source.

Now, Stern's conviction has just gotten a big outside boost. The hydrogen storage technology, being developed by Stern's Swiss-based startup, C.En, has been endorsed for its safety by a top German institute—an important vote of confidence, given that hydrogen is highly explosive and that safety has long been a major stumbling block to its commercialization.

On Nov. 25, Germany's Federal Institute for Materials Research & Testing (known by its German acronym, BAM) released results of nearly two years of tests on C.En's technology, which involves the storage of compressed hydrogen inside bundles of thin, strong tubes of glass, known as capillary arrays. "The lightweight storage and safety factors give the technology a huge commercial potential for a whole range of industries," says Kai Holtappels, who heads up the working group at BAM that has been testing the technology since February 2008.


Toyota Prius converted to run on hydrogen at Shell refueling station on outskirts of Reykjavik, Iceland.

Iceland now has a fleet of 14 hydrogen-fueled vehicles as part of effort to gradually wean the island nation off its dependence on fossil fuels.

Mazda Premacy Hydrogen RE Hybrid minivan has range of 200 km.

Mazda Premacy Hydrogen RE Hybrid is the first to be powered by both hydrogen and electric battery.

Ion Tiger hydrogen fuel-cell powered UAV.

The Ion Tiger UAV utilizes a hydrogen-powered fuel cell design, which can travel farther and carry heavier payloads than earlier battery-powered designs.


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