2019.10.30About KUT / Academics / Research / Students Life

Lightweight, safe hydrogen carrier material developed by joint research group including KUT's Prof. Fujita

A joint research group has found that hydrogen boride nanosheets (with a 1:1 organizational ratio of hydrogen and boron) can release hydrogen by light irradiation alone at ambient room temperature and pressure. The group members are Prof. Masahiro Miyauchi from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Tokyo Institute of Technology; Associate Professor Takahiro Kondo, researcher Nguyen Thanh Cuong and Professor Susumu Okada from University of Tsukuba; Professor Takeshi Fujita from the School of Environmental Science and Engineering of KUT; and Professor Iwao Matsuda of University of Tokyo.

Figure 1. Hydrogen boride nanosheets (HB sheets) release hydrogen under UV light

The capacity of HB sheets to store and release hydrogen is exceptionally high, due to the two-dimensional nature and unique electronic band structure of the sheets.

The research group achieved a first-ever synthesis of a hydrogen boride nanosheet, which is a nanosheet-like substance composed of boron and hydrogen (lightweight elements with no risk of explosion). Since the sheet has a hydrogen density of 8% or more, it is expected to be usable as a lightweight and safe hydrogen carrier* that can replace the hydrogen gas cylinders in common use today, which have a risk of explosion.

Another type of hydrogen carrier is conventional hydrogen storage alloys, which can carry a density of hydrogen as high as 2%. Cyclomethylhexane, an organic hydride, is considered a promising hydrogen carrier, but its mass hydrogen density is 6.2%, so to release hydrogen, it must be heated to at least 300°C.

The new synthesis announced here is based on a phenomenon discovered by the research group: that hydrogen can be extracted from a hydrogen boride nanosheet at room temperature and atmospheric pressure by simply irradiating it with ultraviolet light. This development is expected to enable the development of a safe, lightweight and simple portable hydrogen carrier, replacing the high-pressure hydrogen tanks installed in the current fuel cells of vehicles Furthermore, in the group's research, they succeeded in elucidating, by computational science, the mechanism of hydrogen release by light irradiation from the viewpoint of electronic structure.

Professor Fujita explained his enthusiasm about his research. "I think that for technological innovation, it is important to create new materials, rather than improving existing ones."

The results of this research were published in Nature Communications on October 25, 2019. Nature Communications is an open access journal that publishes high-quality research in biology, physics, chemistry and earth sciences--research that makes a significant contribution to the advancement of knowledge.

Click here to view the paper.

Click here to vie the press release.

* Hydrogen carrier: A device or medium for storing and transporting hydrogen. Well-known hydrogen carriers include high pressure hydrogen gas cylinders, liquefied hydrogen containers, ammonia, organic hydrides, and hydrogen storage alloys.