Lithium buckyballs to store hydrogen?
: Roland Piquepaille provides a perfect example of how nanoscale technology differs develops, going from a realworld problem through computer models to reality. "The clusters they've designed -- by using computer modeling -- are composed of 12 lithium atoms and 60 carbon atoms, are very stable and can store up to 120 hydrogen atoms in molecular form. .. But why did the researchers choose to study this particular kind of material to store hydrogen?
There are two classes of materials: one where large amounts of hydrogen can be stored, but it is difficult for hydrogen to desorb (e.g., CH4), and the other where hydrogen can desorb easily, but not much of it can be stored (e.g., carbon nanotubes). An ideal storage system would be one where hydrogen binds molecularly but with a binding energy that is intermediate between the physisorbed and chemisorbed state. We show that coating of C60 fullerenes with suitable metal atoms may lead to the synthesis of novel hydrogen storage materials. In particular, we show that the unusual ability of Li12C60 to bind 60 hydrogen molecules stems from the unique chemistry at the nanoscale."
It's still a long way from this technology to the pollution-free fuel cell in your car; but model-driven nanotech gives us tools to systematically aproach our targets for technological development. 11:44:05 PM