Nanoporous polymers hold hope for hydrogen fuel


    Nanotechnology is certainly a buzzword these days, and it has been extended to the alternative fuel market with an announcement out of the U.S. that scientists have been able to use nanoporous polymers to absorb a record amount of hydrogen.

    The absorption is particularly important because hydrogen normally has to be stored as a liquid, which is problematic for affordable transportation. Special arrangements currently have to be made.

    The scientists, working at the University of California, Berkeley and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, heated a chemically treated styrene and created a large amount of pores, all of them less than nanometers wide. The key point is that hydrogen atoms attach themselves readily and prodigiously to these polymers.

    At atmospheric pressure, the polymers had 1.5 percent hydrogen, which is the best result so far. Much work remains to be done, however.