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Purdue University: storing hydrogen in ammonia borane
Fuel Cells, June  18  2010 (The Hydrogen Journal)

- Researchers at Purdue University, Indiana, are developing technology to store hydrogen in ammonia borane, which could be used in cars.

Ammonia Borane has one of the highest hydrogen contents of all solid materials, containing 19.6 per cent by weight hydrogen.

The challenge has been working out how to release hydrogen from ammonia borane, and this is where researchers have made a breakthrough, says Arvind Varma, R. Games Slayter Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering and head of the School of Chemical Engineering.

Research findings were presented June 15 during the International Symposium on Chemical Reaction Engineering in Philadelphia. The research also is detailed in a paper appearing online in the AIChE Journal, published by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.

Normally, there are two ways to obtain hydrogen from ammonia borane: hydrolysis (adding water to ammonia borane with a catalyst to generate hydrogen) and thermolysis (heating the material to 170 degrees Celsius to release hydrogen. Neither of these methods are practical in a vehicle.

However if the methods can be combined and precisely controlled (called hydrothermolysis), and run at the temperatures a fuel cell will normally run under (85 degrees C) it starts to become practical.

With everything at optimum conditions it managed to obtain hydrogen weighing 14 per cent as much as the original ammonia borane and water it came from. This compares with a US Department of Energy 2015 target of 5.5 per cent weight per cent hydrogen for a hydrogen storage system.

The researchers determined that a concentration of 77 percent ammonia borane is ideal for maximum hydrogen yield using the new process.

The research has been funded by the U.S. Department of Energy by a grant through the Energy Center in Purdue's Discovery Park.

Work now needs to be done to work out how to scale up the reactor, so it is large enough for a vehicle driving 350 miles before refuelling, and also recycling the waste revenues back into ammonia borane.


Purdue research

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