Powerpaste could be a safer, more efficient way to store hydrogen

Hydrogen holds tremendous potential as a clean energy source, but there are still significant hurdles to overcome before it becomes a legitimate option for cars and trucks. Two of those issues are storage and transportation of the fuel, particularly when large high-pressure tanks aren’t an option. A new creation called Powerpaste, developed by a research team at the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials in Dresden, Germany, could potentially answer those questions.

According to the Institute, Powerpaste is made up of magnesium hydride (created when magnesium powder is combined with hydrogen), an ester and a metal salt. A plunger pushes the paste out of its container, water is added and hydrogen is released. Half of the hydrogen is released from the magnesium hydride and the other half comes from the water. The resulting hydrogen can then be used to generate electricity using a fuel cell.

Because both parts of the mixture release hydrogen, the combination of Powerpaste and water can reportedly store more hydrogen than standard high-pressure tanks and is 10-times more dense than today’s batteries. And since both the paste and the required water are easy to carry in cartridges or canisters and don’t pose a dangerous threat in high temperatures, no significant infrastructure is needed to make the fuel source available to potential customers.

The Fraunhofer Institute suggests that electric scooters and motorcycles are an ideal initial test for its Powerpaste, and it plans to launch a production plant this year to produce up to four tons of the fuel per year. If that’s successful and everything works out as well as they hope, the researchers hint that Powerpaste could be useful for other sectors, presumably including automobiles.

Of course, hydrogen has other hurdles to overcome, chief among them revolving around a good way to capture hydrogen in the first place, but we’re certain researchers are working to resolve those questions, too.

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