In a major advance in alternative fuel technology, researchers report the development of a sponge-like material with the highest methane storage capacity ever measured. It can hold almost one-third more methane than the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) target level for methane-powered cars, they report in a new study. It is scheduled as an open access article for the Jan. 23 issue of ACS’ Journal of the American Chemical Society, a weekly publication.
This is an important breakthrough that could make biogas-powered cars more viable. As is well known, biogas is the most efficient transport biofuel currently being produced, on a field-to-wheel basis. The green gas can be made from the anaerobic digestion of municipal, industrial and farm waste as well as from dedicated energy crops. Once upgraded, the biomethane can be fed into the natural gas grid without difficulties.
Hong-Cai Zhou and colleagues note that lack of an effective, economical and safe on-board storage system for methane gas has been one of the major hurdles preventing methane-driven automobiles from competing with traditional ones. Recently, highly-porous, crystalline materials called metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) have emerged as promising storage materials due to their high surface areas. However, none of the MOF compounds have reached DOE target levels considered practical for fuel storage applications.
The report in the Journal of the American Chemical Society describes development of a new type of MOF, called PCN-14, that has a high surface area of over 2000 m2/g. Laboratory studies show that the compound, composed of clusters of nano-sized cages, has a methane storage capacity 28 percent higher than the DOE target, a record high for methane-storage materials, the researchers say.
Source: Biopact, 2008-01-21.