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Conventional pressurized gas tanks for fuel cell cars store hydrogen at around 700 bar. Storage tanks based on magnesium and nitrogen, on the other hand, can tolerate considerably higher pressure, which reduces the required tank volume and allows the car to take more energy on board. The problem here is that filling magnesium hydride-based tanks requires high temperatures of around 300 degrees Celsius. Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht, Center for Materials and Coastal Research (HZG) south-east of Hamburg have now succeeded in reducing the required working temperature to below 180 degrees Celsius, and at the same time in making the fueling process considerably faster .

T hey describe the process in an article for scientific journal ‘Nature’ : As the result of several years of work, doctoral student Gökhan Gizer and his colleagues have developed a hydride composite system of potassium and lithium titanate oxide that makes refueling around five times faster. To achieve this, they milled the substances into nanoparticles in specialized mills; this increases the surface area of the particles, allowing them to bind more hydrogen. The scientists in the Nanotechnology department now want to optimize the reaction kinetics of the new materials in order to adapt them for technical application in vehicles.