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Hydrogen storage research group

The HSRG is well equipped to measure the hydrogen storage properties of a range of materials and has the following facilities/equipment:

  • Facility for studying the sorption properties of gases by nanostructured materials (funded under a 2009 ARC LIEF grant)
  • Residual Gas Analyser
  • Supercritical Fluid Chromatograph Facility
  • 7 sets of manometric gas handling apparatus (4 automatic, 3 manual)
  • Coupled hydride system and heat engine
  • High pressure facilities (up to 2 kbar)
  • A range of furnaces, gloveboxes, mechanical mills and cryomills
  • The HSRG also has access to X-ray and microscopy equipment (SAXS, XPS, XRD, TEM, SEM) and other characterisation facilities on site.

Given the necessity of the international community to decrease its dependence on fossil fuels it is no longer a question of will a transition to the solar hydrogen economy occur, but when? One of the key stumbling blocks of implementing the hydrogen economy is the issue of how to economically store the hydrogen. Therefore hydrogen storage is a hot topic at the present time due to the emerging market in clean vehicular transport as well as the market for static applications. If a suitable hydrogen storage medium was to be discovered it would revolutionise the energy sector by its implementation into many of the 1.2 billion cars on the planet. The increasing use of solar and wind to produce electricity, especially for off grid power necessitates the need to find a suitable storage system for the excess electricity produced. It has been shown that the use of a hydrogen storage material in conjunction with an electrolyser and fuel cell has several advantages over that of a Li-ion battery, with the added bonus that a metal hydride storage tank has 2- 3 times greater longevity than a Li-ion battery. High and low temperature hydrogen storage materials have the potential to replace molten salts as the heat storage medium for electricity production at night (or non-sun periods) in concentrated solar power (CSP) systems.

The Hydrogen Storage Research Group (HSRG) at Curtin University aims to produce technologically viable new hydrogen storage materials that will meet the ground transportation and static applications associated with a transition to a solar hydrogen economy. The potential benefit in the advanced materials sector would be great, given the scale of the automotive industry. The research focus of the HSRG is to conduct fundamental research on hydrogen storage materials for automobile applications and for heat storage applications (predominantly CSP applications), that will contribute significantly to the development of the solar hydrogen economy to meet the future sustainable energy needs of Australia. Such technology innovation will provide significant benefits to Australia for the near future sustainable solar hydrogen economy. The research also fosters the training of professional researchers in this dynamic and frontier research field contributing to the overall competitiveness and productivity of Australia’s R&D.

The HSRG is researching the following materials as suitable candidates for hydrogen storage applications:

  1. High temperature hydrides such as Na, Ca, Si, Mg, Al and their alloys, and low temperature hydrides for CSP applications,
  2. Porous metal frameworks for the nanoconfinement of high wt.% hydrides that will contribute to a destabilisation effect, which will lower the hydrogen desorption temperature of the hydride making it suitable for automobile applications.