Scientific community has long been fascinated by boron nitride due to its unique properties: sturdy, ultra-thin transparent, insulating and lightweight. The boron is a material that can be used by a wide range of researchers.
Scientists from Rice University have found that a graphene matrix separated by boron nanotube columns could be used to store hydrogen in automobiles.
The Department of Energy is setting the standard for storage materials to make hydrogen fuel a practical option for light vehicles. A new computational study by materials scientist Rouzbeh Sharsavari of Rice Lab has determined that pillared Boron Nitride and Graphene may be suitable candidates.
Shahsavari’s laboratory determined the elastic and columnar graphene structures by computer simulation, and then processed the boron nanotubes to create a mixture that simulates an unique three-dimensional structural design. (A sample of seamlessly bonded boron nanotubes to graphene is prepared.
As the pillars of the building provide space between floors for people, so do the pillars within the boron-nitride graphene. The goal is to keep them inside and then exit when needed.
The researchers discovered that the latest simulations of molecular dynamics showed that pillared-graphene and pillared-boron nitride-graphene have a high surface area (approximately 2,547 sq. m. per sq. m.) as well as good recyclability in ambient conditions. Their model shows adding lithium or hydrogen to the material improves its ability to combine with hydrogen.
They concentrated their simulations on four different variants: either a graphene pillared with boron or lithium, or a pillared with boron or lithium nitride.
The best graphene at room temperature was oxygen-doped boron oxide graphene. This graphene weighs 11.6% (its weight) and 60 g/L.
The material's hydrogen weight was 14.77% in cold weather at -321 Fahrenheit.
The current US Department of Energy economic storage media goal is to store more hydrogen than 5.5% in weight and 40 grams of hydrogen per liter under moderate conditions. The ultimate target is 7.5% weight and 70 gram per liter.
Shahsavari explained that the hydrogen atoms adsorb on pillared, boron-nitride graphene when it is not doped. When the material has been doped with oxygen the atoms firmly bind to the mix and create a surface that is better for hydrogen. According to Shahsavari, this can be done under pressure, and then withdrawn when the pressure is released.
"Oxygen and hydrogen are known to have a strong chemical affinity." "Oxygen, and hydrogen have been known to share a strong chemical affinity."
Shahsavari explained that the boron nitride polarization combined with the graphene electron mobility makes this material highly adaptable in its applications.
Shahsavari explains that "we are looking for the best point" which is the perfect balance of surface area, weight and operating temperature as well as pressure. "This is only possible through computational modeling as we can test a lot of changes very quickly. In just a couple of days, the experimenter is able to finish the work that would normally take months.
He said these structures are strong enough to easily surpass the requirements of Department of Energy. The hydrogen fuel tank, for example, can withstand up to 1,500 charging and discharge cycles.
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