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Metal alloys pave the way for hydrogen batteries

The Material Energy Research Laboratory in Nanoscale (MERLiN) at the University of New South Wales, led by Prof. Kondo-François Aguey-Zinsou, has developed a metal alloy to store hydrogen in solid form, in a material that can withstand large temperature variations, and prevent the risk of explosion.

The group of researchers is now working on a pilot system capable of producing hydrogen via water hydrolysis from renewable energies, storing it with the help of their metal alloy, and then converting this hydrogen into electricity in a fuel cell, when is needed to take over intermittent renewable energies. This system would accumulate 60 kilowatt hours of energy, or 5 times more than a current lithium battery, and would cost only 2 Australian cents per kilowatt hour, or less than one tenth of the price offered by lithium batteries. A domestic hydrogen battery would be the size of a small refrigerator and would weigh 196 kilograms.

These hydrogen batteries could complement the solar panels that already equip many homes and businesses in Australia, or could also be coupled to the large solar and wind farms that are developing in the country. This system could finally have applications to power ships or remote areas.

In an Australian context where renewable energies are highly developed and looking for ways to be better integrated into the electricity grid, this discovery is already of interest to industries. It remains to chart the path from scientific discovery to mass deployment on the market.

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