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AN ON-BOARD HYDROGEN STORAGE BREAKTHROUGH?

Researchers at the University of Michigan have taken ordinary rigid plastics, rearranged their crystalline structures into predictable shapes, and created lightweight materials they believe will be suitable for hydrogen fuel storage.

Researchers at the University of Michigan have taken ordinary rigid plastics, rearranged their crystalline structures into predictable shapes, and created lightweight materials they believe will be suitable for hydrogen fuel storage. Post-doctoral fellow Adrien Côté led the team that figured out how to slow down the reaction process that normally forms randomly cross-linked polymers so the materials could crystallize in an orderly fashion—something that had never been done with rigid plastics. The covalent organic frameworks (COFs) reportedly can be made highly porous to increase storage capacity, and consist of hydrogen, boron, carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen molecules that form strong covalent bonds with each other. These bonds make the materials—Côté says it is possible to modify the COFs to tailor the material to different applications or make it perform better—very robust, though lightweight.