Department of Energy grants fuel hydrogen research at UGA

November 03, 2005

Incorporating nanostructures may lead to more efficient hydrogen production and storage, according to researchers from the University of Georgia and the University of California, Santa Cruz who have secured $1.35 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to work on clean energy technologies. Yiping Zhao, assistant professor in the department of physics and astronomy at UGA and a recognized expert in the fabrication of nanostructures, is the principal investigator on the hydrogen storage aspect of the multi-institution project.

The grants cover two distinct projects based on nanoscale materials on which the researchers will collaborate; one is for generating a solar cell device to produce hydrogen and one is using nanomaterials to safely store the hydrogen. Both projects are dependent on the materials to be designed and fabricated by Zhao at UGA, which will then be characterized and tested by Jin Zhang at UCSC. Researchers also involved are Mathew D. McCluskey from Washington State University for the hydrogen storage project and Wei Chen from Nomadics, Inc., in the hydrogen generation project.

The grants are among 70 hydrogen research projects funded through a $64 million DOE initiative aimed at making vehicles powered by hydrogen fuel cells available, practical and affordable to American consumers by 2020. Generating hydrogen from solar energy - using it as a transportation fuel with only clean water as a byproduct - would completely bypass fossil fuels as an energy source. Still, significant technological barriers continue to block this reality.

For example, about four kilograms of compressed hydrogen is needed to drive an automobile 300 miles. The present state of the technology would require a large volume, equal to about a 50-gallon drum, of the volatile element to be stored in a vehicle for use. Zhao is confident of reducing this volume with the use of nanostructures as a storage mechanism.

"Nanostructures are important in hydrogen storage because you have a higher surface area," said Zhao. "But what really sets this process apart is the nanofabrication techniques - we can design better structures and incorporate more complex materials, which is vital if this technology is to move forward."

The research on materials and generating hydrogen from solar cells will focus on the fundamental research needed to be able to mass produce these technologies for a consumer market. The basics of how hydrogen interacts with nanostructures, its diffusion and temperature thresholds on the scale of a billionth of a meter hold the key for its wider application.

"The one thing that we see on the hydrogen fuel front is the government funding agencies beginning to work in concert with many of our more innovative thinkers and engineers," said Dale Threadgill, director of the UGA Faculty of Engineering, which sponsors Zhao's work as a member and houses a laboratory dedicated to nanoscale fabrication. "Dr. Zhao certainly counts among these nationally."

"I'm delighted that Dr. Zhao is receiving these important grants from the Department of Energy," said Garnett S. Stokes, dean of the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. "Clean, affordable energy is critical to everyone, and we're delighted to have a part in this ongoing effort."

"With these two projects, with the potential to turn water into hydrogen using solar energy and then burn the hydrogen into water as a fuel, we can have an inexhaustible source of clean energy," said Zhao.
-end-


University of Georgia

Related Hydrogen Articles from Brightsurf:

Solar hydrogen: let's consider the stability of photoelectrodes
As part of an international collaboration, a team at the HZB has examined the corrosion processes of high-quality BiVO4 photoelectrodes using different state-of-the-art characterisation methods.

Hydrogen vehicles might soon become the global norm
Roughly one billion cars and trucks zoom about the world's roadways.

Hydrogen economy with mass production of high-purity hydrogen from ammonia
The Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) has made an announcement about the technology to extract high-purity hydrogen from ammonia and generate electric power in conjunction with a fuel cell developed by a team led by Young Suk Jo and Chang Won Yoon from the Center for Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Research.

Superconductivity: It's hydrogen's fault
Last summer, it was discovered that there are promising superconductors in a special class of materials, the so-called nickelates.

Hydrogen energy at the root of life
A team of international researchers in Germany, France and Japan is making progress on answering the question of the origin of life.

Hydrogen alarm for remote hydrogen leak detection
Tomsk Polytechnic University jointly with the University of Chemistry and Technology of Prague proposed new sensors based on widely available optical fiber to ensure accurate detection of hydrogen molecules in the air.

Preparing for the hydrogen economy
In a world first, University of Sydney researchers have found evidence of how hydrogen causes embrittlement of steels.

Hydrogen boride nanosheets: A promising material for hydrogen carrier
Researchers at Tokyo Institute of Technology, University of Tsukuba, and colleagues in Japan report a promising hydrogen carrier in the form of hydrogen boride nanosheets.

World's fastest hydrogen sensor could pave the way for clean hydrogen energy
Hydrogen is a clean and renewable energy carrier that can power vehicles, with water as the only emission.

Chemical hydrogen storage system
Hydrogen is a highly attractive, but also highly explosive energy carrier, which requires safe, lightweight and cheap storage as well as transportation systems.

Read More: Hydrogen News and Hydrogen Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.