New Study on Graphene-Wrapped Nanocrystals Makes Inroads Toward Next-Gen Fuel Cells

New Study on Graphene-Wrapped Nanocrystals Makes Inroads Toward Next-Gen Fuel Cells

September 18, 2017

New projects for hydrogen storage and fuel cell performance aim to bring down cost of fuel cell electric vehicles.

A powdery mix of metal nanocrystals wrapped in single-layer sheets of carbon atoms, developed at the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), shows promise for safely storing hydrogen for use with fuel cells for passenger vehicles and other uses. And now, a new study provides insight into the atomic details of the crystals' ultrathin coating and how it serves as selective shielding while enhancing their performance in hydrogen storage.

Reduced Graphene Oxide

The study, led by Berkeley Lab researchers, drew upon a range of Lab expertise and capabilities to synthesize and coat the magnesium crystals, which measure only 3-4 nanometers (billionths of a meter) across; study their nanoscale chemical composition with X-rays; and develop computer simulations and supporting theories to better understand how the crystals and their carbon coating function together.

The science team's findings could help researchers understand how similar coatings could also enhance the performance and stability of other materials that show promise for hydrogen storage applications. The research project is one of several efforts within a multi-lab R&D effort known as the Hydrogen Materials—Advanced Research Consortium (HyMARC) established as part of the Energy Materials Network by the U.S. Department of Energy's Fuel Cell Technologies Office in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

Glenn Roberts Jr.