Producing Powdered Hydrogen Through Mechanochemistry
An innovative procedure for gas separation and storage developed at Deakin University’s Institute for Frontier Materials is poised to reduce energy consumption in the chemical industry and make hydrogen easier and safer to transport in powder form.
Mechanochemistry, a relatively new concept, represents chemical reactions triggered by mechanical forces rather than heat, light, or electric potential differences. The mechanical power is generated by ball milling, a grinding method that requires very low energy. During this process, a cylinder containing steel balls is turned, making the balls roll up and down, compressing and pushing the material inside. This triggers a reaction that absorbs the gas into the powder and stores it there, thus allowing for safe hydrogen storage at room temperature.
According to the research team, the process could extract hydrocarbon gases from crude oil with a 90 percent reduction in the energy traditionally required for this process. Moreover, storing gas safely in powder form could facilitate hydrogen storage and transportation and serve as a direct fuel for cars and trucks.
With significant benefits and savings in three major areas – energy, costs, and emissions – this mechanochemical process is expected to reach widespread adoption soon. Professor Ian Chen, the co-author of the study published in the journal Materials Today, says: “We’re continuing to work on different gases, using different materials. We hope to have another paper published soon, and we also expect to work with industry on some real practical applications.”
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