As a benign hydrogen-storage material that rapidly releases hydrogen-rich gases through microwave-assisted catalytic decomposition, wax has the potential to be the key to future of hydrogen-powered vehicles according to new research.

Hydrogen is often described as the fuel of the future, especially for application in hydrogen powered fuel-cell vehicles (HFCV’s). However, its widespread implementation in this role has been thwarted by the lack of a lightweight, safe, on-board hydrogen storage material.

It is widely recognised that a major scientific and technological barrier to the commercialisation and market acceptance of hydrogen powered fuel cell vehicles (HFCV’s) is the lack of an inexpensive, safe and easily produced (on-board) hydrogen storage material with suitable hydrogen generation kinetics.

So far no single material has met simultaneously the critical requirements for a viable hydrogen storage and hydrogen releasing material suitable for use in HFCV’s and other fuel cell applications.

However, research reported in the nature journal Scientific Reports has discovered that the storage of hydrogen in, and rapid evolution from, paraffin wax could be the solution.

The research team, cited as Gonzalez-Cortes, S. et al., has developed highly selective catalysts with the assistance of microwave irradiation, which can extract hydrogen from hydrocarbons instantly through a non-oxidative dehydrogenation process.

The wax material is safe, efficient and could facilitate its application in a HFCV. Most Importantly, hydrogen storage materials made of wax can be manufactured through completely sustainable processes utilising biomass or other renewable feedstocks.

Toyota Mirai

Toyota Mirai fuel cell vehicle

Source: Toyota Motor Corporation

The paper, titled Wax: A benign hydrogen-storage material that rapidly releases H2-rich gases through microwave-assisted catalytic decomposition, is published in the journal Scientific Reports