Energy is one of the major drivers of the economic development of any country. Global energy demand is increasing due to a growing population and higher living standards; at the same time, however, non-renewable natural resources are depleting at an alarming rate, while severe environmental issues brought about by climate change are affecting most of the world’s population. The environmental crisis created by large-scale consumption of fossil fuels, for instance, has led to an increase in the demand for clean and sustainable energy. Given this demand, hydrogen (H2) comes into the picture as an alternative fuel to fulfill energy requirements. Due to its high gravimetric energy density, hydrogen serves as a superior energy carrier (even used nowadays as rocket fuel), where the only by-product – besides energy – is pure water; i.e., H2 is an eco-friendly fuel with zero carbon emissions . Although hydrogen is predicted to be an efficient alternative fuel that can be used widely in different sectors , hydrogen technology suffers from the major challenge of storage and transportation .
Hydrogen can be stored in three ways: 1) as compressed gas , 2) as a cryogenic liquid , and 3) as solid-state storage . In the first method, a large storage tank is required, coupled with the availability of highly pressurised gas, thus requiring high compression energy, as hydrogen gas occupies a large volume. In the second method, as a cryogenic liquid, it requires significant financial investment, and the process always consists of various losses such as boiling off during refilling. Therefore, in terms of economical and safe hydrogen storage, there is currently a strong interest in solid-state storage through adsorption and/or absorption on materials/alloys. Storage of hydrogen in solid form is considered as the safest mode, whereby hydrogen combines with the solid material through physisorption or chemisorption. Novel nanomaterials, such as layered materials (e.g. graphene), are particularly appealing due to their low mass density, high strength-to-weight ratio and high specific surface area.
This project aims to develop a stable and low-cost H2 storage system based on novel layered materials. The outcomes of this research will help improve the capacity and robustness of low-cost hydrogen storage and transportation, reduce energy costs, and make hydrogen energy become a reliable, affordable, sustainable and clean energy source for Australia and the world.
The project will be largely experimental and will be supervised by Professor Yuerui (Larry) Lu and Professor Ping Koy Lam. The project will involve collaboration with world leading companies, Toshiba Corportation (Japan) and Global Power Generation (GPG) Australia.
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