Hybrid Nanoporous Adsorption / High-pressure Gas Hydrogen Storage Tanks

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bath
Department Name: Chemical Engineering


This is a Case for Support for an inter-disciplinary research project at the University of Bath, UK to establish for the first time design and operation principles for hybrid nanoporous adsorption / high-pressure hydrogen gas storage tanks for use in sustainable energy applications, especially low-carbon vehicles. It is being submitted in response to the May 2013 EPSRC call for SUPERGEN Hydrogen Challenge projects, in particular to provide storage solutions using hybrid systems. If funded, the project will benefit from strong association with the EPSRC SUPERGEN Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Hub of which Mays (the Principal Investigator of this project) is a Co-Director.

The proposed project, nominally to start in April 2014 (£1,170 unindexed full economic cost), and involving seven researchers (127 work months in total), aims to determine how nanoporous adsorbents may be incorporated into Type IV (or equivalent) high-pressure gas tanks (operating at ~70 MPa and ~298 K) to enhance hydrogen capacity, optimise storage conditions and possibly confer additional benefits in terms of thermal and mechanical properties. The project incorporates three, linked workpackages. WP1 (led by Burrows, Co-Investigator, Chemistry) will generate novel nanoporous adsorbents to be used as tank liners, WP2 (led by Bowen. Materials Science and Kim, Mechanical Engineering, CIs) will study how these materials bond to, and affect the properties of, tank materials (in particular carbon-fibre reinforced resin composites) and WP3 (led by Mays, Chemical Engineering) will integrate WP1 and WP2 to develop an optimal design and operation strategy for hybrid tanks. The project partner, EPL Composites Ltd., Loughborough, UK, will provide expert advice on industrial and economic aspects of tank materials, manufacture and design (contribution worth £45k) and the University will provide strategic project support in the form a 36-month PhD studentship based in Chemical Engineering worth a total of £57k.

Planned Impact

A high-level motivation for this work is to resolve the problem of practical and economic hydrogen storage to support technology development for future sustainable and secure energy provision in the UK, especially low-carbon vehicles. A principal aim is to support efforts to meet the country's legally-binding carbon budgets as set out in the 2008 Climate Change Act. These UK budgets are framed internationally, in particular in the EU's 20-20-20 targets and within the Kyoto Protocol. As well as environmental drivers, the project could also lead to social and financial benefits for the UK. The energy industries in the UK economy represent 3.5 % of GDP (~UK£60b), 10 % of total investment, 52 % of industrial investment and employ about 173,000 people and the vast majority of the UK's 63m population benefits from the availability of heat, power and means of transport that these industries provide. Hence, even for low growth, there are significant economic and employment opportunities for hydrogen technologies as future energy systems move away from fossil fuels.

The proposed research also aligns strongly with roadmaps and policy documents on Hydrogen and Fuel Cells both internationally, for example the EU Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking, and in the UK. UK initiatives include the 2004 IOM3 Materials Foresight Document, the 2005 Fuel Cells UK Fuel Cell Development and Deployment Roadmap, the 2006 Scottish Executive Hydrogen Energy Group Report and the UK TSB/DECC 2009 Hydrogen Roadmap. The UK hydrogen community convened at the UKERC Meeting Place in Oxford in February 2011 to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the UK hydrogen programme and to make recommendations for the way forward, including research into storage. This acted as a pre-cursor to the new EPSRC SUPERGEN Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Hub (H2FC), which includes hydrogen storage as a key enabling theme.

The establishment of H2FC reinforced the importance attached to hydrogen and fuel cells research in the UK which is linked to key outcomes of a number of influential EPSRC International Reviews (Materials, 2008; Chemistry, 2009; Energy, 2010) all of which identified energy storage as a major challenge. The project clearly aligns with this and related current UK government science policy which recently highlighted the fundamental national importance of energy storage (which necessarily includes hydrogen) as one of its priority Eight Great Technologies. Finally, the proposed project clearly aims to meet requirements of the Hydrogen Challenge Call in particular research on hybrid solid-state / pressurised gas containment. The Call and this proposal reflect priorities in the EPSRC's Physical Sciences and Energy themes, in particular securing energy supply by funding world-class, speculative research to define future energy supply options, including hydrogen.

To ensure project impact all research outcomes will be disseminated internationally in the very highest quality journals, and at national and international conferences, meetings and workshops, including those organised by the EPSRC SUPERGEN H2FC Hub to which this Challenge project is linked. All project investigators are experienced and committed disseminators of their research with well over 400 publications between them. Their complementary skill sets will lead to outputs that will have interest and impact across a wide range of technical disciplines. Peer-reviewed journal and conference papers will constitute the academic evidence base required to inform and shape future hybrid adsorbent / high-pressure hydrogen gas containment strategies nationally, and contribute to the global academic and industrial communities in this field and in the broader energy sector. The project has significant added value via its links with the SUPERGEN Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Hub (H2FC) and hence with the extensive national and international networks of the Hub's investigators, researchers and project partners.


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Noguera-Díaz A (2016) Structure-property relationships in metal-organic frameworks for hydrogen storage in Colloids and Surfaces A: Physicochemical and Engineering Aspects

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Polak-Krasna K (2017) AFM imaging and nanoindentation of polymer of intrinsic microporosity PIM-1 in International Journal of Hydrogen Energy

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Rochat S (2017) Hydrogen storage in polymer-based processable microporous composites in Journal of Materials Chemistry A

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Sharpe J (2015) Modelling the potential of adsorbed hydrogen for use in aviation in Microporous and Mesoporous Materials

Description Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Hub Extension (H2FC SUPERGEN)
Amount £3,373,117 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/P024807/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2017 
End 01/2022
Description UKRI Research Challenges Co-ordinator in Hydrogen and Alternative Liquid Fuels
Amount £579,028 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/W035529/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2022 
End 04/2023
Title Adsorbent composites for gas storage 
Description Novel methods to synthesize and characterize adsorbent composite monoliths for fuel gas storage. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2015 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Novel methods to synthesize and characterize adsorbent composite monoliths for fuel gas storage. 
Title Data for cryocharging and cryokinetics analysis of hydrogen storage in MIL-101 (Cr) and AX-21. 
Description Data for high-pressure hydrogen adsorption in MIL-101 (Cr) and AX-21. Includes: - Excel files (.xlsx) with isotherm data as excess uptake of hydrogen in weight percent (mass of hydrogen divided by dry mass of sample) for the metal-organic framework material MIL-101 (Cr) at 77, 90, 100, 110, 130, 150, 200 and 292 K and up to 12 MPa and for the activated carbon AX-21 at 90, 100, 110, 120, 150, 200 and 298 K and up to 18 MPa. - Excel files (.xlsx) with rational fits to the compressibility of hydrogen using the Leachman's equation of state for 77, 90, 100, 110, 120, 130, 150, 200, 292 and 298 K, up to 20 MPa. - Excel files (.xlsx) with kinetic data for hydrogen excess uptake (micromols), pressure (MPa) and sample temperature (K) as a function of time for the MIL-101 (Cr) 77 and 90 K isotherm and for the AX-21 90 K isotherm. - Origin files (.opj) with the analysis of the isotherm data for the cryocharging - Origin files (.opj) with the analysis of the kinetic data using the linear driving force model - Image files (.tif) for the SEM micrographs for the MIL-101 (Cr) and AX-21, and image files (.tif) for the particle analysis using Image J. Manuscript for the results in this dataset (forthcoming): High-pressure adsorptive storage of hydrogen in MIL-101 (Cr) and AX-21 for mobile applications: cryocharging and cryokinetics by Nuno Bimbo, Wesley Xu, Jessica E Sharpe, Valeska P Ting and Timothy J Mays 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2015 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Description Haydale 
Organisation Haydale
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Academic experience and expertise in the identificartiom, selection, design and characteristion ofm adsorbent materials
Collaborator Contribution Industrial expertise and 3experience in the design and manufacture of commercial hydrogen sorage tabnks.
Impact Ourtputs are ongoing with respect to materials & expertise provide by tyhe cpmpany.
Start Year 2016
Description Presentation at research conference or meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Dissemination and research conference and meetings
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014,2015,2016,2017,2018,2019