This new silicon-based powder could make transporting hydrogen fuel safe and viable
Just this week, we reported on a chemical that would allow hydrogen to be stored and transported safely. The breakthrough was touted as a key discovery to making the fuel viable. After all, hydrogen as a fuel is very attractive due to its environmental benefits, but its storage and transport have long been notoriously complicated endeavors.
Generating ultra-pure hydrogen on demand
Now, a renewable energy company EPRO Advance Technology (EAT) has announced another crucial breakthrough process in green hydrogen energy that generates large amounts of ultra-pure hydrogen on demand and that is safe to store and transport.
"EAT has developed a revolutionary porous silicon material, known as Si+, which has the ability to generate ultra-pure hydrogen from a water source and which acts as a solid-state hydrogen generating material – one that is compact, robust, and easily transportable – solving many of the issues that have inhibited the growth of the hydrogen economy," said the energy firm in a press release.
How does it work?
When hydrogen is needed, you simply submerge the Si+ powder into water and mix it. And that's all, folks. Hydrogen gas then starts bubbling out.
The powder functions at a wide range of ambient temperatures between 0-80 °C (32-176 °F). And better yet, apart from the hydrogen gas, all that's left over is silicon dioxide, the major constituent of sand. Not a bad process, eh? The sand can then be used in construction or even to make a nice beach.
A long-duration energy storage material
“Si+ is the first distributable, long-duration energy storage material of grid parity,” said Albert Lau, CEO of EAT, “It represents a significant breakthrough of green hydrogen energy, and it will transform hydrogen from the fuel of the future to the fuel of tomorrow.”
“Si+ technology has the potential to bring forward the hydrogen economy by decades. It can allow us to fully exploit our natural resources, delivering hydrogen safely to locations of need through existing infrastructure and transport systems,” he added.
EAT also states that, unlike other solid-state hydrogen compounds, Si+ doesn’t store hydrogen, making it ultra-safe compared with other ‘hydrogen carrying’ materials. It also consists merely of metallurgical grade silicon, which can be sourced from sand together with a carbon source, but also from recycled silicon from broken or end-of-life solar panels, most of which currently head to landfill.
This means Si+ is extremely environmentally friendly, having a very low carbon footprint. EAT says its systems are already under consideration from the Hong Kong Airport Authority, which is evaluating them as a way to fuel its backup gensets. If the company can really deliver on its promise, without making the product too expensive, then we might be looking at our next mass-produced energy system.
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