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Power Science

Buckyballs Can Store Concentrated Hydrogen 193

Pickens brings news that researchers from Rice University have discovered that it's possible to store hydrogen inside buckyballs. Hydrogen can be an excellent power source, but it is notoriously difficult to store. The buckyballs can contain up to 8% of their weight in hydrogen, and they are strong enough to hold it at a density that rivals the center of Jupiter. "Using a computer model, Yakobson's research team has tracked the strength of each atomic bond in a buckyball and simulated what happened to the bonds as more hydrogen atoms were packed inside. Yakobson said the model promises to be particularly useful because it is scalable, that is it can calculate exactly how much hydrogen a buckyball of any given size can hold, and it can also tell scientists how overstuffed buckyballs burst open and release their cargo."
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Buckyballs Can Store Concentrated Hydrogen

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  • by Naughty Bob ( 1004174 ) on Friday March 21, 2008 @08:21AM (#22817734)

    ...and they are strong enough to hold it at a density that rivals the center of Jupiter.
    Something the summary doesn't make clear is that Buckyballs are much more convenient in portability terms, as compared with Jupiter.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by JoeInnes ( 1025257 )
      Summary doesn't make it clear, because it's not true. If you have enough buckyballs to hold as much hydrogen as the centre Jupiter, they'll be just as inconvenient to pop in your briefcase.

      However, it is probably easier to stuff buckyballs with hydrogen than trying to cut off pieces of Jupiter.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by oni ( 41625 )
        as much hydrogen as the centre Jupiter,

        So what you're saying is that you don't understand the difference between density and volume.
        • You guys are all missing the major point here, though...who knew the center of Jupiter was made of buckyballs?!

      • by clonan ( 64380 ) on Friday March 21, 2008 @09:31AM (#22818276)
        While I haven't run the math, I think if you compress the hydrogen in Jupiter's core down to briefcase size you will find that it will keep going and form a nice little singularity....very easy to fit in a briefcase....shortly before it EATS the briefcase and then you...

        Back of envelope math:

        One earth mass will form a singularity at around 10 CC (or so I've heard)

        Jupiter's core is about 10 earth masses (or so I've heard)

        Ergo one Jupiter core will form a singularity at about 100 CC.

        A small briefcase will hold 100 CC plus a little extra.

        Only one questions will we get the core of Jupiter to LOOK like the report I was supposed to read last night?
        • One thing is that theoretics will blow singularities out the window. One theory holds that Jupiter's core is a solid mass of crystallized carbon. Yep, you can guess what that is, Diamond. Another theory, with a more stable foundation, is that hydrogen at that pressure and temperature, becomes metallic. Essentially within your little buckyball, you would have a sphere of hydrogen metal. If your buckyball can handle > 100GPa,(over one million atmospheres) then the hydrogen atoms will undergo a phase change and become metallic.

          If this is practical and it's energy potential can be tapped, we'll have at our fingertips, an unlimited power source that won't kill you with radiation.

          • by clonan ( 64380 )
            ummm....I hope you are suggesting that we could pull it from Jupiter's core rather than treating the H2 we compress as an energy SOURCE.

            Even pulling it from the core doesn't really help us. What would we use to oxidse it once we have burned ALL the Oxygen?

            Can you go into more detail on what you are suggesting?
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by ArcherB ( 796902 )

            ...If your buckyball can handle > 100GPa,(over one million atmospheres)...
            If your buckyball can handle > 100GPa,(over one million atmospheres), then you should just be able to inject a few under a piston, release the pressure and use the released pressure to drive your engine.

          • by ukemike ( 956477 ) on Friday March 21, 2008 @11:23AM (#22819682) Homepage

            If this is practical and it's energy potential can be tapped, we'll have at our fingertips, an unlimited power source that won't kill you with radiation.
            It astonishes me how often /.ers forget the first and second law of thermodynamics. You'll only have the unlimited source of energy after you expended the same amount of energy (and more) generating and compressing the hydrogen to get it into the buckyballs in the first place.

            Wake up world. Hydrogen isn't a source of energy any more than capacitors are. It's a way to store energy.
            • by Rei ( 128717 ) on Friday March 21, 2008 @12:24PM (#22820592) Homepage
              Well, this seems to be purely theoretical work about whether buckyballs *could* contain dense hydrogen, not how to achieve it. However, I can think of two very interesting possibilities, energy-wise, if it could be achieved.

              1) Superconductivity: Metallic hydrogen is a superconductor. Not sure how that would work conducting current through the shells, though. While just being a superconductor doesn't give you energy, it makes it easier to transmit energy.

              2) Fusion is all about the combination of the density of your targets and energy of your collisions. This is some impressive hydrogen density being discussed.
              • Superconductivity: Metallic hydrogen is a superconductor. Not sure how that would work conducting current through the shells, though.

                Aren't buckyballs small enough to allow quantum tunneling from one ball's hydrogen core to an adjacent ball's core? If so, and if quantum tunneling doesn't break superconductivity properties, Bob's yer uncle.

                (BTW, anyone who comes up with some good ball jokes here gets an e-cookie.)
              • You are onto something there. "Pelletized" Hydrogen or Deuterium in a high pressure, semi metallic or metallic state, do you think that there might be a energy bonus there?
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by amRadioHed ( 463061 )
              Pedantically speaking oil isn't an energy source either, it's just a storage medium for solar energy.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by xtal ( 49134 )
              We have, already, an unlimited source of energy in the Sun. The real problem is how to transport and condense that energy into useful-to-us forms..
              • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

                by WalksOnDirt ( 704461 )

       unlimited source of energy in the Sun.
                I understand why you would say this, but you think too small for my tastes. The Sun doesn't contain enough energy in total for some of my more grandiose schemes.
          • If this is practical and it's energy potential can be tapped, we'll have at our fingertips, an unlimited power source that won't kill you with radiation.
            Sounds like nuclear power; unlimited and won't kill you with radiation.
          • I still prefer to obey the laws of thermodynamics.

            Also, radiation won't kill you if you just make sure it is absorbed in something that isn't alive. Like 3-4 meters of boron and uranium spiked concrete.
          • by Xyrus ( 755017 )
            Actually, I was thinking that since hydrogen becomes super-conductive at high pressures at room temperature this would be one way to achieve a room temp super conductor. Or possibly apply this with the salene (SiH4?) compound from the other day and have higher temperature super conductors.

        • A small briefcase will hold 100 CC plus a little extra.
          That's would be one tiny briefcase. 100cc is about the size of a small apple, and I don't mean a MacBook Air.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 21, 2008 @08:36AM (#22817818)
      Also for those of you more familiar with the US measurement system (rather than the SI units): The pressures we're talking about here is almost 200 million library of congresses per VW Beetle.
    • Exotic pressures (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Dr. Cody ( 554864 ) on Friday March 21, 2008 @08:59AM (#22817978)
      In the nuclear fuels field, we deal with really exotic temperatures and pressures in materials whose bulk properties might be only two or less orders of magnitude from standard temperature and pressure. Did you know that there are people sitting around, calculating the pressure of an individual helium atom in a crystal lattice? The pressures that arise put planetary cores to shame.
  • Hmmm. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Friday March 21, 2008 @08:29AM (#22817778) Journal
    it can also tell scientists how overstuffed buckyballs burst open and release their cargo."
    Well, if these are being burst open, then it means that these have to be built AND loaded each time, and then disposed. So now, we are going to either break apart water (cool, but inefficient), or strip H from fossil fuel (efficient, but bad news for the CO2). Then we are going to build bucky balls, store the hydrogen in it (at 8% volume), sell you the buck ball, your car will magically break the balls (most likely pressure or heat), this will power either an ICE (very low efficiency) or a fuel cell/electric motor (high efficiency, but high cost due to fuel cell).

    Of course, we could just take the electricity and charge a battery and then run an electic motor, all at more than double (or even triple) the efficiency and probably half to one third the costs.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by mudetroit ( 855132 )

      I am in know way saying that this is a perfect solution, but a carrying method for using hydrogen as a fuel is a better long term alternative for us then batteries storing electrial energy.

      The fundamental problem with batteries is that sooner or later the chemical process that you are taking advantage of breaks down and you are left with a battery that no longer functions. As most batteries, actually all the ones I am aware of, are made with particularly noxious chemical compounds now you have the problem

      • The new lithium/phosphate batteries don't seem to have any notably toxic components, and in the larger uses (like cars) they'll almost always be recycled anyway.

        Hydrogen might work out in the future as a storage/distribution medium, but for now there are still a lot of problems to be overcome. I think it's a long shot.
  • Considering Fullerine is C-60 and therefore weighs 720p (ha! protons) and hydrogen atoms weigh exactly 2, this means that they can hold ~30 hydrogen atoms in it?

    Oddly, I think the issue would be balancing the containment energy of the buckyball versus the energy burning the hydrogen released. There *might* be a sweet spot in the number of hydrogen stable inside versus the tickle required to make the ball release them, for this to make sense.

    • > ...hydrogen atoms weigh exactly 2...

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gm0e ( 872436 )
      Like it or not, percent weight is the common metric to compare hydrogen storage methods. Around 6% by weight, the energy/mass ratio of molecular hydrogen is in the ballpark of gasoline, so 6% is the target you hear all the hydrogen storage scientists talking about. Of course what weight percent sweeps under the carpet are the important issues like stability after many charge/discharges, energy required per cycle, and the operating temperature range. Anybody claiming near or over 6% is cutting major corners
    • If it's 8% by weight, then 100 grams of C60 can hold 8 g of H2, which is 4 moles or about 90 liters (or 3.2 cubic feet) at standard atmosperic pressure & temp. Sounds more impressive when you convert to volume, doesn't it?

      It's going to take a whole lot of C60 to store enough H2 to get you very far, though.
      • > Sounds more impressive when you convert to volume, doesn't it?

        Not when you remember that hydrogen gas at STP is much less dense than air.
        • by drooling-dog ( 189103 ) on Friday March 21, 2008 @01:10PM (#22821280)
          How about this, then:

          Store the hydrogen at atmospheric pressure in a large, oblong balloon-like vessel, and strap your vehicle underneath it. You not only have a fuel source, but you have buoyancy as well and can soar above the traffic. We'd finally have those flying cars they've been promising us.

          Oh, the humanity!
          • How about this, then:

            Store the hydrogen at atmospheric pressure in a large, oblong balloon-like vessel, and strap your vehicle underneath it. You not only have a fuel source, but you have buoyancy as well and can soar above the traffic. We'd finally have those flying cars they've been promising us.

            Oh, the humanity!
            Yes! Mooring available at Lakehurst, NJ.
  • by Muad'Dave ( 255648 ) on Friday March 21, 2008 @08:38AM (#22817830) Homepage

    ...but each burst buckyball is 60 carbon atoms floating around in your fuel. Aren't you right back to "hydrocarbons" if you burn this fuel, and won't the carbon poison fuel cell membranes? It's a cool trick _iff_ you can strip the carbon out efficiently before the hydrogen is used.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      No prob. The issue here is finding an (energy-)efficient / easy way to make the buckyballs store and release hydrogen. But once the hydrogen is released, I can't imagine it would be hard to separate 2-atom hydrogen molecules from 60-atom buckyball molecules. Or find a way to do so.

      Some hints: at room temperature, buckyball molecules may behave as solid or liquid-like material, or be dissolved in other liquids, while hydrogen is a thin gas. And buckyball molecules come in different sizes (number of C-at

      • Thanks for the reply. I guess the bottom line is how small the buckyball fragments are. My fear is that upon rupture, some of the released hydrogen will combine with the newly-ruptured bucky fragments, creating those evil hydrocarbons. Unless we find some extremely clever scientists, I doubt we'll see buckyballs with a little trap door on them to let the hydrogen out. barring that, there will be various sizes of carbon structures floating around (I liken it to nuclear fission where there's a two-humped dis
        • by clonan ( 64380 )
          Remember, hydrocarbons aren't "bad"

          If the Carbon was extracted from the air to create the buckyballs then there is no problem with burning them...if they were extracted from oil we have an issue regardless.
          • True, if as you say the carbon is atmosphere-o-genic. I fear that the easiest (and cheapest) route may be to crack aliphatic hydrocarbons from fossil fuels into both the buckyballs and H2, so we're no better off than burning it outright.
            • by clonan ( 64380 )
              absolutly agree...until fossil fuels start to become scarse and the price of extracting them from the ground goes up while at the same time solar, and nuclear (Thorium maybe) power prices come down.

              Eventually, probably in the next two decades it will become economically feasible to extract carbon from the air rather than the ground.
              • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

                The biggest expense of nuclear power is not the fuel, but the extreme initial capital cost for building the plant. Fuel is actually a pretty small fraction of the cost for nuclear power - the price of fuel could double and the KWh cost would rise very little.
                • by clonan ( 64380 )
                  Correct, and as the technology has improved over the last 30 years (since the last N-plant went active in the US), the initial capital costs have dropped.

                  Also, it is important to remember that other power plants have similar initial upfront costs.

                  Hydroelectric dams well exceed nuke plants. Even coal fired plants are approaching the same price as a nuclear plant.

                  The major issue is NOT the upfront cost but rather the societal pressure to avoid nuclear and the perceived problem of nuclear waste. The first is
        • by afidel ( 530433 )
          Actually there are ways to deform a fullerene lattice without breaking the bonds. Certain catalysts can be used which temporarily bond with the carbon deforming the lattice and allowing appropriate sized captured molecules to escape. This method was developed to deliver chemotherapy drugs more directly, the researchers found a way to attach the catalyst to the cancer site and then injected the chemo containing fullerenes into the patient where they only deformed on and near the cancer site. This significant
    • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )
      It doesn't seem like that cool a trick anyway. 8%? That's a lot of fuel tank and not very much fuel.
  • by camperdave ( 969942 ) on Friday March 21, 2008 @08:40AM (#22817846) Journal
    So all we really need is a really big buckyball, and we've solved the hydrogen storage problem.

    Of course, we still need to figure out how to get the soft gooey hydrogen inside the chocolatey pocket of the buckyball, especially at "center of jupiter" pressures. Maybe the folks at Cadbury might reveal their secret. We'll also need to figure out how to get the hydrogen out once we're ready to use it.
    • So how many licks does it take to get to the center of a Bucky-pop?

      Hmmm, lets see... One, two, thr...BANG!

  • by hanshotfirst ( 851936 ) on Friday March 21, 2008 @08:41AM (#22817858)
    An alternative to carbon-fuel which requires storing that alternative in carbon?

    Once you crack those buckeyballs open to get the H out, the C has to go somewhere, right?

    What am I missing, here?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by oxidiser ( 1118877 )
      You're comparing apples and oranges here. The buckyballs DO contain carbon, but that fact alone does not make them dangerous to the environment. Carbon as fuel is bad because it gives off CO2 as a byproduct of burning. In this case the carbon is just the container, the hydrogen is the fuel. Unless of course I'm missing something, which is entirely possible.
      • by clonan ( 64380 )
        Also you should remember that CO2 is not "bad" per say.

        It is only the addition of EXTRA CO2 that is bad. If we cracked the CO2 already in the air to make the fulerenes and then burned them it wouldn't add anything to the atmosphere at all.
        • > If we cracked the CO2 already in the air to make the fulerenes and then burned them it
          > wouldn't add anything to the atmosphere at all.

          If we cracked the CO2 already in the air (and some water) to make octane and then burned it, it wouldn't add anything to the atmosphere at all.
    • I apologize if someone else has already pointed this out-

      Ostensibly, the carbon for these balls would come from the atmosphere; therefore, releasing them back in to the atmosphere would not cause a net gain in CO2 levels. Unless we store these buckyballs for millions of years (like oil) thus allowing the planet to settle in to a carbon-sparse ecology, there really is no ill effect from this process.

      You excrete CO2 all the time when you breathe. That carbon comes from recently-expired organic sources and is
  • by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Friday March 21, 2008 @08:45AM (#22817880) Homepage
    Otherwise known as gasoline.
  • by ayjay29 ( 144994 ) on Friday March 21, 2008 @08:52AM (#22817930)
    Pregnant women, the elderly and children under 10 should avoid prolonged exposure to Hydrogen Filled Buckyball.

    Caution: Hydrogen Filled Buckyball may suddenly accelerate to dangerous speeds.

    Hydrogen Filled Buckyball contains a liquid core, which, if exposed due to rupture, should not be touched, inhaled, or looked at.

    Do not use Hydrogen Filled Buckyball on concrete.

    Discontinue use of Hydrogen Filled Buckyball if any of the following occurs: Itching, Vertigo, Dizziness, Tingling in extremities, Loss of balance or coordination, Slurred speech, Temporary Blindness, Profuse sweating, Heart Palpitations.

    If Hydrogen Filled Buckyball begins to smoke, get away immediately. Seek shelter and cover head.

    Hydrogen Filled Buckyball may stick to certain types of skin.

    When not in use, Hydrogen Filled Buckyball should be returned to its special container and kept under refrigeration... Failure to do so relieves the makers of Hydrogen Filled Buckyball, Wacky Products Incorporated, and its parent company Global Chemical Unlimited, of any and all liability.

    If Hydrogen Filled Buckyball should become soiled, wipe gently with a soft cloth moistened with sulfuric acid.

    Ingredients of Hydrogen Filled Buckyball include an unknown glowing substance which fell to Earth, presumably from outer space.

    Hydrogen Filled Buckyball has been shipped to our troops in Saudi Arabia and is also being dropped by our warplanes on Iraq.

    Do not taunt Hydrogen Filled Buckyball.

    Hydrogen Filled Buckyball comes with a lifetime guarantee.
    Hydrogen Filled Buckyball. ACCEPT NO SUBSTITUTES!
    • You forgot "The Hydrogen Filled Buckyball will never threaten to stab you, and, in fact, cannot speak. In the event that the Hydrogen Filled Buckball does speak, we advise you to disregard it's advice."
    • Not nearly as brilliant as your "Happy Fun Ball" ripoff, but...

      Side effects may include: dry mouth, nausea, vomiting, water retention, painful rectal itch, hallucination, dementia, psychosis, coma, death, and halitosis. Buckyballs are not for everyone. Consult your doctor before use.
  • That's Nice (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Friday March 21, 2008 @09:11AM (#22818084) Homepage Journal
    Could densely packed hydrogen be encouraged to fuse somehow? Perhaps with some sort of "laser"?
  • by The Fun Guy ( 21791 ) on Friday March 21, 2008 @09:22AM (#22818170) Homepage Journal
    "Professor, that's amazing! The buckyballs will bind the hydrogen so well that it won't leak out of the container?"

    "That's correct. We're very pleased with these results."

    "And to release the hydrogen to be able to use it, you just crack open the buckyballs, right?"

    "I beg your pardon? No, no, it's bound extremely tightly to the carbon matrix. That's what we've developed, a way to bind hydrogen."

    "But to actually use the hydrogen, professor, you have to get it back out. How do you get it out of the buckyballs?"

    "Ah, well, that's something that we'll address in year 4 of the grant."

    "Which is...?"

  • Hydrogen is soluble in aluminum. Its solubility varies directly with temperature and the square root of pressure. During the cooling and solidification of molten aluminum, dissolved hydrogen in excess of the extremely low solid solubility may precipitate in molecular form, resulting in the formation of primary and/or secondary voids.

    Moisture in the atmosphere dissociates at the molten metal surface, offering a concentration of atomic hydrogen capable of diffusing into the melt. The barrier oxide of aluminum
  • by Fysiks Wurks ( 949375 ) on Friday March 21, 2008 @09:29AM (#22818248)
    Let's RTFA a bit: "'Based on our calculations, it appears that some buckyballs are capable of holding volumes of hydrogen so dense as to be almost metallic,' said lead researcher Boris Yakobson"..." If a feasible way to produce hydrogen-filled buckyballs is developed, Yakobson said, it might be possible to store them as a powder."

    What a difference one word can make in a summary. News flash, "Miss Universe can have sex with Slashdot users! According to simulations conducted with fold-out pictures in Randy's center"

    The simulation work is pretty cool, the headline and summary can and does mislead the reader.
  • ...but when someone puts a new word like "buckyballs" in the title of a posting, rather than trying to outsmug the rest of us by looking more intelligent, can they also briefly explain in the first paragraph what that word actually is?

    There's me over here in "The Old World" looking at the article thinking "Buckyballs? What are they then? Some brand of American breakfast cereal or cured meat product being a spherical version of beef jerky? How can processed foodstuffs be used as containers for hydrogen? An

    • The word "buckyball" is hardly new. I'm pretty sure it's been around since the mid-1980s, and I don't consider it to be any more obscure than, say, "triglyceride". Yet few people complain when the word triglyceride appears in an article without a definition.

      And is it really that hard to look it up in Google? I'm pretty sure you've got Internet access, or else your ability to post here is a really neat trick.
  • I don't see anywhere in the article where they mention how many gigapascals that is, but I see varying references that depending on how deep you mean, they could mean anywhere from 140 to 300 GPa. At that pressure, this might make a suitable container for the room temperature superconducting silicon [] mentioned earlier this week on slashdot. So, we have a compound that can compress to a room temperature superconductor. We have a container to keep it compressed in. Now we just need to figure out how to stu
  • by clonan ( 64380 ) on Friday March 21, 2008 @09:49AM (#22818530)
    Everyone assumes that these will be used for fuel cells, but why not use them for fusion?

    I know one technique has been laser fusion. Target several lasers at one point and they reinforce each other. Then drop in a tiny sphere of fusion fuel surrounded by glass of plastic and the lasers cause the sphere to exploded both outward and in which increases the pressure enough to cause fusion.

    This concept has to be more efficient with a VERY high pressure fuel. So we give our packed buckyballs a charge and electromagnetically shoot them into the center of the lasers and POOF you have fusion..

    Just a thought, any comments?
  • H, a power source (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ralph Spoilsport ( 673134 ) on Friday March 21, 2008 @10:29AM (#22818982) Journal
    Hydrogen can be an excellent power source

    Hydrogen is more of a battery than a fuel and it is ALWAYS by DEFINITION going to have negative ER/EI. Why? Because the energy required to pull hydrogen out of water or methane or petroleum is going to be greater than the energy you get from burning the hydrogen. What the "hydrogen economy" seeks to do is to protect the sunken cost of the suburbs, and the sunken costs of the automotive infrastructure, both of which are joined at the hip and are completely unsustainable. It's a fools errand and will fail. There is also the not inconsiderable energy that goes into making the bucky balls, etc.

    Face it: gigs up. Game over. Prepare to slowly powerdown. []


  • by Colonel Korn ( 1258968 ) on Friday March 21, 2008 @10:30AM (#22819002)
    Okay, no one in a modded-up post on this story understands the concept. Buckyballs look like soot. You have a tank filled with this soot in your car. Then you flow very high pressure hydrogen gas over them for awhile (this has been done for years with carbon nanotubes, which offer more storage but because they only confine in 2 dimensions, unlike the balls, they don't provide the capillary forces necessary to make this easy). Hydrogen then adsorbs (notice ADsorbs, not ABsorbs) onto the inner surfaces of the Buckyballs. Capillary forces, like those that cause liquid to be drawn into a straw, allow the hydrogens to live essentially as liquids inside the balls, meaning that when you remove the high pressure hydrogen flow, the hydrogren in the buckyballs doesn't all immediately fly out. Hydrogen leaks out of the balls slowly, becoming a gas and maintaining a roughly constant pressure in the tank, and you then siphon off the hydrogen that you want to power your car. You can control the leakage rate by changing the temperature.

    You then reuse the Buckyballs by flowing hydrogen gas over them when they're empty. They're 100% reusable storage, not tiny gas tanks. Someone mod this up so that the dozens of "oh nos, Buckyballs hurt teh environments" posts go away.
    • > Hydrogen leaks out of the balls slowly, becoming a gas and maintaining a roughly constant
      > pressure in the tank...

      What happens when you leave the car parked over the weekend? Seems like the pressure is going to rise to the "very high pressure" at which it was put in the balls.
      • by mapsjanhere ( 1130359 ) on Friday March 21, 2008 @11:30AM (#22819762)
        You will reach an equilibrium pressure in your tank at which adsorption and desorption occur at the same speed. The big question here is kinetics anyway. How fast does the hydrogen adsorb, and how fast can it be released? The whole idea only becomes practical if you can "fill your tank" in a reasonable time and with decent equipment requirements, lets say 5 min at 2000 psi. And the release has to be fast enough to allow an engine to generate 100 kW or so without depleting the hydrogen flow (or needing a m^3 of tank).
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Gryphia ( 947956 )
      Oops. Wasn't logged in. So no one will see the previous comment, I'm sure. Wrong. What you are describing is how you load hydrogen into the pores between buckyballs in a C60 crystal. What this article describes is theory based on hydrogen loaded inside a single buckyball cage. Due to the pore size (basically it's a C6/C5 ring, depending on where you are on the buckyball), you can't load hydrogen into the cage of a buckyball. To get hydrogen inside a buckyball, you actually have to synthesize the buckyba
    • Someone mod this up so that the dozens of "oh nos, Buckyballs hurt teh environments" posts go away.

      And no Buckyballs will ever be released in accidents? (Industrial or automotive?)
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by cupofjoe ( 727361 )
      I'd like to second Colonel Korn on this one (I've certainly never written THAT before); the concept of reusable hydrogen storage materials is not a new one. It's devilishly difficult, of course, but not new. Check out [] to see what's been done so far.

      Buckyballs, like carbon nanotubes (CNTs) before them, store hydrogen by physisorption, whereby hydrogen molecules (not atoms, usually) "stick" to the near-surface via van der Waals forces (or equivalent). The issue with CNTs, of cou
  • Good idea, but without a solid method to encapsulate and remove the hydrogen, in a rapid cost effective manner, this is just a scientific curiosity.
  • Leaks (Score:3, Interesting)

    by YetAnotherBob ( 988800 ) on Friday March 21, 2008 @12:03PM (#22820242)
    So, you have a system that can store hydrogen in carbon balls at high pressures. (the cold fusion folks manage to get 6000 pascals or so inside a metal lattice chemically.) What I want to know is how long can you store it. Hydrogen leaks through anything. the atoms fit BETWEEN the molecular bonds in most metals, plastics, even wax. That's the reason that space rockets are refueled constantly. (boil off of something that boils at 4 Kelvin is really something too!) The tanks leak!

    What is the half life of the hydrogen storage in this system?

    So, if the buckyball left the factory last month, how much H2 content will it still have? Once it decays down to atmospheric temperature, it does me no practical good.
  • Hydrogen can be a useful element for storing power, but it is not a power source, except (shortsightedly) when looking only at the device in front of you at the moment.

    Sure, the only true power sources are the Sun, the Earth's core, and radioactive decay, but I'm not being hair-splitting. Even petroleum or gasoline can be considered "power sources", because they've already been "charged" (by the Sun and the Earth's gravity). There are no standing deposits of hydrogen around on the Earth already charged and
  • Anything with that high of an energy density could release it is suddenly?
  • This still seems like a lot more trouble than the existing solution of dropping an aluminum/gallium alloy in water and presto, hydrogen on demand (with aluminum oxide as waste which can be restored to aluminum). No high pressures required, the only production required is the aluminum/gallium alloy. The gallium is completely reusable and the aluminum can be recovered from the aluminum oxide and at commercial production levels would be around the price of gas now. It would get cheaper with time as the process
  • Comparing to pyrene (Score:2, Informative)

    by vuo ( 156163 )
    Pyrene is a hydrogen transfer catalyst that can contain 0.99% hydrogen if hydrogenated to 4,5-dihydropyrene. I did the same H2 content calculation for C60 and found that the current state of the art, one H2 in one fullerene or C60@H2, is 0.28% hydrogen. To be better than pyrene, you need to put in eight hydrogen atoms as four H2 molecules, or C60@4H2. To give that 8% storage capacity you need not less than 62 hydrogens, or C60@31H2. That's slightly more than one hydrogen per one carbon, which is a lot. (Gas

Someday somebody has got to decide whether the typewriter is the machine, or the person who operates it.