Origami graphene nanobox breakthrough for fuel cells

March 13, 2014 //By Paul Buckley
Origami graphene nanobox breakthrough for fuel cells
Mechanical engineers Shuze Zhu and Teng Li from the University of Maryland have discovered a method of making nano-scale squares of graphene fold into a box, which will open and close itself in response to an electric charge.

The technique paves the way for a practical means of hydrogen storage which is an essential step in the process of making efficient fuel cell solutions.

Inside the nano-scale graphene box, the researchers have managed to contain hydrogen atoms. Hydrogen storage is a key enabling technology for the advancement
of hydrogen and fuel cell power technologies in transportation, stationary, and portable applications.

Watch a video of the Nanobox open and close:

The  U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is searching for ways to make storing energy with hydrogen a practical possibility. Department goals include aiming to develop of techniques by 2017 that enable packing in 5.5 percent hydrogen by weight, and by 2020, stretching this achievement to 7.5 percent.

University of Maryland’s team has already crossed those thresholds, with a hydrogen storage density of 9.5 percent hydrogen by weight.  The team has also demonstrated the potential to reach an even higher density and doing so is a future research goal.

“Just like paper origami that can make complicated 3-D structures from 2-D paper, graphene origami allows us to design and fabricate carbon nanostructures that are not naturally existing but of desirable properties,” said Li. “We have made nano-baskets, as well as these new nano-cages to hold hydrogen and other molecular cargos.”

The University of Maryland team’s research is published online by ACS Nano.

Related articles and links:

www.umdrightnow.umd.edu

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