Hydrogen Storage in Small, Glass Capillaries May Give Boost to Greenest of Green Vehicles
As the easy-to-produce and vastly renewable material used in hydrogen fuel cells, hydrogen seemed to be a no-brainer to power vehicles large and small. However, one major challenge is the sheer size and weight of the on-board hydrogen tanks the vehicles have to carry. If a team of Israeli scientists and businesspeople have their way, though, this may change.
Currently, vehicle hydrogen storage tanks are metal or of a composite material and look like giant scuba tanks. Israeli scientists at C.En Ltd. in Geneva, Switzerland, have developed a way to store hydrogen in a series of glass capillaries, each no larger than a human hair.
The bundled capillaries sit in a glass tube called a capillary array. At about the width of a drinking straw, 11,000 of these arrays will take up less than half the space and weight of current vehicle hydrogen tanks while still providing enough fuel to power a car for 240 miles.
Tank storage is just one of the hurdles facing large-scale hydrogen car production, but it is an important one. The capillary tube concept can go a long way to helping hydrogen cars really ‘hit the road’.
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image credit: Michael Sohn / AP