In our race towards decarbonisation and the management of energies that are more respectful of the environment, hydrogen represents one of the clearest bets. Germany is about to launch its first train line, there are large manufacturers who think of it when they consider the car of the future and energy giants and institutions have already moved in its favor. In its future, however, there are still some significant challenges. It is not easy to produce and there is also the question of how to store and transport it, two of his great handicaps.
A team from the Leibniz Institute of Catalysis, based in Rostock, Germany, just published in the magazine ACS Central Science a method to improve the strategies we are using.
handle hydrogen it is not an easy task. As a gas it is flammable, unstable and it is not easy to handle it in large quantities, which complicates its transport. It is not a minor matter if tomorrow we want to have a network of hydrogen that facilitates its use on the roads.
One of the solutions that has been put on the table over the years is to liquefy it to transport it in a similar way to natural gas (LNG). The problem is that this is not a perfect alternative either. To change it from gaseous to liquid state —remember Interesting Engineering— Very low temperatures are required, -253ºC, and containers capable of withstanding high pressures. In short: methods that complicate and above all make their use more expensive.
Another interesting alternative is to resort to hydrogeneration and store it in salts, a reversible process that can be applied cyclically, but also has its own handicaps. When dealing with it, for example, certain metals are used as catalysts that end up causing the release of carbon dioxide (CO2)a not very desirable result if what it is about is looking for formulas that help us on our way to decarbonization.
— Leibniz-Institut für Katalyse (LIKAT) (@likat_rostock) October 20, 2022
The proposal of the Leibniz experts consists of perfecting the system using carbonate and bicarbonate salts. In a study published in ACS Central Sciencethe scientists outline the advantages of their proposal, which allows the use of manganese as a catalyst.
After experimenting they found a combination of salts and acids that makes it easier for their method to have some important advantages: uses relatively abundant elements, is reversible and alleviates the problem of CO2. By using lysine, its release into the atmosphere is stopped.
Tests also point to good performance data, even after five cycles. During their experiments, they also verified that the released hydrogen reached a purity of 99% and the performance could still be improved if the chemical components of the method are altered.
“We provide a viable method of reversible hydrogen storage and release through the interconversion of widely available (bi)carbonate and formate salts under comparatively mild reaction conditions,” German researchers conclude.