Hydrogen: Less Bang for the Buck

ECD's hydride storage seen as reducing explosion risks of hydrogen under high pressure

Published: 20-Mar-2004

The Department of Energy says that switching from gasoline- to hydrogen-fueled cars is an important way to ensure national security by reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil. But the thought of driving a vehicle that contains a highly pressurized hydrogen tank could make some drivers uneasy.

To reduce the risk of accidentally releasing hydrogen that could ignite and cause an explosion, scientists have developed new storage systems that "sponge" up the gaseous hydrogen and store it inside metal as a solid.

Many of the fuel cell cars in development store hydrogen as a gas in tanks pressurized from 5,000 to 10,000 pounds per square inch, requiring reinforced tanks and special nozzles to prevent hydrogen from escaping into the air. This also puts a strain on the hydrogen tanks and valves, said Jeffrey Schmidt, a systems engineer at Energy Conversion Devices, or ECD.

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