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‘One-pot’ ammonia-borane recharging could boost fuel-cell vehicles

By Scott Jenkins |

Ammonia borane’s (AB) capacity to contain and easily release large amounts of hydrogen has made it an attractive candidate to store the gas for onboard fuel-cell powered vehicles. A major technological hurdle that remains is how to reintroduce hydrogen to spent AB in an energy-efficient way. Now, a team comprised of researchers from Los Alamos National Laboratory (Los Alamos, N.M.; www.lanl.gov) and the University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa, Ala.; www.ua.edu), has published a single-vessel method to recycle the material left when H2 is released. The method could significantly reduce the expense and complexity of ammonia borane recycling, and represents a step toward the practical use of H2 for powering automobiles. The scientists developed a regeneration process in which the spent fuel material (polyborazylene) is reacted at 40°C with hydrazine and liquid ammonia in a sealed pressure reactor to yield recharged AB. The researchers envision the use of removable tanks containing AB that would be interchanged with a fresh AB container when the H2 is released. “By recharging the AB off-board, you can access more thermodynamically reasonable chemistry than what would be required for direct onboard regeneration of AB,” explains…
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