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Storing Stably Hydrogen Atoms in Icy Materials Discovered​
View : 11402 Date : 2008-08-07 Writer : ed_news

KAIST, Aug. 8, 2008 -- A KAIST research team led by Prof. Huen Lee of the Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering has discovered that icy organic hydrates, which contain small cages that can trap guest molecules, can be used to create and trap hydrogen atoms at higher temperatures.

The properties and reactions of single hydrogen atoms are of great scientific interest because of their inherent quantum mechanical behavior; experimentally, they can be generated and stabilized at very low temperatures (4 K) by high-energy irradiation of solid molecular hydrogen. 

The finding was reported in the journal of American Chemical Society and featured in the "Editor"s Choice" in the July 11 issue of Science as a recent research highlight.

Hydrogen is a clean and sustainable form of energy that can be used in mobile and stationary applications. Hydrogen has the potential to solve several major challenges today: depletion of fossil fuels, poor air quality, and green house gas emissions. 

However, the trapping of hydrogen atoms in crystalline solid matrix has never been attempted mainly because of experimental difficulties in identifying the generated hydrogen atoms with either spectroscopic or microscopic technique.

"To overcome the barriers and limitations of the existing storage approaches, we have continuously attempted to find the new hydrogen storage media such as icy powders and other related inclusion compounds," said Prof. Lee
 
The discovery follows the breakthrough concept Prof. Lee"s research team proposed in Nature in 2005 to use pure ice to capture and store hydrogen molecules. At moderate temperature and pressure conditions small guest molecules are entrapped in pure ice powders to form the mixed icy hydrate materials.

"Stable existence of single hydrogen molecule/radical in icy crystalline matrices may offer significant advantages in exploring hydrogen as a quantum medium because icy hydrogen hydrates can be formed at milder conditions when compared with pure solid hydrogen, which requires the ultra low temperature of 4.2 K," said Prof. Lee.

The novel design and synthesis of ionic and radicalized icy hydrates are expected to open a new field for inclusion chemistry and ice-based science and technology. Specifically, the fact that hydrogen atoms can be stably stored in icy materials might provide versatile and practical applications to energy devices including fuel cells, ice-induced reactions, and novel energy storage process, according to the KAIST professor.

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