We are a group dedicated to improving hydrogen storage materials through altering their nanostructure. Cheap, safe, high-density hydrogen storage will be an essential part of a low-carbon economy, as an energy store on board fuel cell vehicles and to smooth out fluctuations in energy supply from a largely renewable electricity generation sector.
Hydrogen storage in solid state materials offers improvements in safety and density of storage over liquid or compressed gas tanks. The operating temperatures and rates of hydrogen release in bulk metal or complex hydrides are unsuitable for commercial use. High surface area materials like activated carbons or zeolites, however, absorb and release molecular hydrogen more rapidly, but they must be cooled to liquid nitrogen temperatures to work, and the density of storage is poor. By creating hydrides with high surface area and small hydrogen diffusion distances through nanostructuring techniques, we hope to combine the best qualities of both types of material: a hydrogen store with rapid release of gas, good cyclability, high weight and volume density of storage, all at temperatures and pressures near to ambient and with the potential for scaled-up production.
To this end we are studying a number of different materials and synthesis techniques, from electrospinning of polymer nanofibres, to the creation of metal-doped high surface area carbons. We have a dedicated lab with electrospinning unit and 3000°C graphitisation furnace, and we run collaborations on materials and expertise with the RAL Micro and Nano Technology Centre, the Department of Inorganic Chemistry at the University of Oxford, and the London Centre for Nanotechnology at UCL.