The Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials (IFAM) in Dresden has invented the POWERPASTE, which provides a safe way of storing hydrogen in a chemical form that is easy to transport and replenish without the need for an expensive network of filling stations. Instead of heading to the filling station, riders just have to replace an empty cartridge with a new one and then refill a tank with water.
Hydrogen-powered cars are already crossing the roads of the world, but in case of smaller vehicles, like e-scooters, the installation of a high-pressure tank to store hydrogen is impractical. In this regard, POWERPASTE offers a solution. The basic element of IFAM’s paste is magnesium, one of the most abundant elements and an easily available raw material.
Then, magnesium powder is combined with hydrogen to form magnesium hydride. When water is added from an onboard tank, the ensuing reaction generates hydrogen gas in a quantity dynamically adjusted to the actual requirements of the fuel cell. In fact, only half of the hydrogen originates from the POWERPASTE, the rest comes from the added water.
“POWERPASTE stores hydrogen in a chemical form at room temperature and atmospheric pressure to be then released on-demand,” – announced Dr Marcus Vogt, a research associate at Fraunhofer IFAM. “POWERPASTE thus has a huge energy storage density. It is substantially higher than that of a 700 bar high-pressure tank. And compared to batteries, it has ten times the energy storage density.”
All in all, it means that POWERPASTE offers a range comparable to – or even greater than – gasoline.
When it comes to the case of passenger cars, the technology is well advanced, with several hundred hydrogen-powered automobiles in use. There are other ongoing researches that may prove that with its huge energy storage density, POWERPASTE can be an option for cars, delivery vehicles and range extenders in battery-powered electric vehicles. Similarly, it could also significantly extend the flight time of large drones, which would thereby be able to fly for several hours rather than 20 minutes and it still does not require a costly infrastructure.
IFAM is currently building a pilot centre, scheduled to go into operation in 2021, this new facility will be able to produce up to four tons of POWERPASTE a year, not only for e-scooters.