"Powerpaste" Could Make Hydrogen More Practical Than Gas

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It offers comparable range and is easy to produce.

While the whole world is on the electric hype train, transitioning to cleaner energy, some still have their faith in hydrogen as a sustainable alternative to EVs. Cars like the Toyota Mirai prove that hydrogen can be practical, but there are still some shortcomings to the technology. A tank is pressurized at 700 bar to store the hydrogen. Adapting it for use in small vehicles like electric scooters and motorcycles is very difficult because the pressure surge during refilling would be too great. The solution? Powerpaste.

Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials (IFAM) in Dresden have created this new mixture, and because it is based on solid magnesium hydride, raw materials are available in abundance.

IFAM
IFAM

Dr. Marcus Vogt, a research associate at IFAM, says that this Powerpaste "stores hydrogen in a chemical form at room temperature and atmospheric pressure to be then released on demand."

The paste only begins to decompose at around 480 degrees Fahrenheit, so an e-scooter or bike could be left in the sun for hours with no safety risk. What's more, refueling is very simple, as instead of going to a filling station, riders can simply replace an empty cartridge with a new one and refill the tank with tap water. Vogt goes on to say that the benefits extend beyond easy refueling, as Powerpaste has "a huge energy storage density."

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Because of this high density, Powerpaste offers a range similar to or even greater than that of gasoline. This means that the tech could be adapted for larger vehicles like cars, or for smaller ones like unmanned drones. It could also power small electrical devices for camping aficionados. In addition, while regular hydrogen has the downside of needing infrastructure to catch up, the paste can be stored in small drums or just in cartridges until fuel suppliers feel that demand for the product necessitates a proper filling station. With so many benefits, it would be a mistake for major automakers and regulators to ignore its positive attributes. Could tech like this swing the clean energy race in favor of hydrogen?

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