Hydrogen is one of the fuel alternatives to oil. The main problem that many organizations are working on is storing enough of it in an engine to make it a viable option.
Rice University mechanical engineering professor Boris Yakobson may have overcome that hurdle. He’s working on a carbon structure that resembles a ‘grapevine’ which stores large amounts of hydrogen energy.
"A novel structure which has a particular form of carbon as a building element. Then in addition to this, we also introduce another element calcium. Calcium has special property of attracting hydrogen molecules."
The Department of Energy’s goal is to develop a structure that can store at least 6% of its weight in hydrogen.
Yakobson says his model would store closer to 8%. The carbon, calcium, hydrogen structure would also be strong enough to store hydrogen at higher temperatures. That’s something Yakobson believes is essential in making hydrogen a viable replacement for oil.
"So preferably from 'customer point of view,' you want everything to go on your natural room temperature, ambient temperature — like you do at a gas station."
Right now, this is just a concept idea. It hasn’t been tested in a lab. But Yakobson believes some promising advances have been made moving closer and closer to the reality of hydrogen cars on the road.