Electrochemical Step Towards Better Hydrogen Storage

Good metal-based systems for hydrogen storage cannot be developed without knowing how this element permeates through metals. Researchers at the Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw managed to apply a user-friendly electrochemical method to study hydrogen diffusion in highly reactive metals.

Hydrogen is seen as a versatile energy carrier for the future. Unfortunately, the element practically does not occur in the free state on Earth. Therefore, it must be first generated (e.g., by electrolysis of water), then stored, to be finally used — ideally in fuel cells transforming chemical energy directly into electrical one. Hydrogen storage represents, however, a serious challenge. The drawbacks of conventional storage tanks for gaseous and liquid hydrogen force us to look for other solutions. One of the promising methods for hydrogen storage makes use of the capability of some metals and alloys to easily uptake this element. The development of efficient hydrogen storage systems requires, however, a detailed knowledge on how hydrogen diffuses in metals.

Hydrogen permeation through metals can be conveniently studied with electrochemical methods. These methods fail, however, for metals where the diffusion of hydrogen is relatively slow, and also in cases where metals strongly react with aqueous electrolyte solutions. The problem relates in particular to magnesium and magnesium alloys that are considered the most attractive materials for hydrogen storage. “We managed to overcome this obstacle”, says Prof. Tadeusz Zakroczymski, whose team at the Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences (IPC PAS) in Warsaw has been for many years carrying out comprehensive research on hydrogen permeation, diffusion and uptake in metals.

Written by Antoni Szafranski. To read the full article, click here.

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