Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Buckyballs Can Store Concentrated Hydrogen

Soulskill posted more than 6 years ago | from the brought-to-you-by-the-letter-H dept.

Power 193

Pickens brings news that researchers from Rice University have discovered that it's possible to store hydrogen inside buckyballs. Hydrogen can be an excellent power source, but it is notoriously difficult to store. The buckyballs can contain up to 8% of their weight in hydrogen, and they are strong enough to hold it at a density that rivals the center of Jupiter. "Using a computer model, Yakobson's research team has tracked the strength of each atomic bond in a buckyball and simulated what happened to the bonds as more hydrogen atoms were packed inside. Yakobson said the model promises to be particularly useful because it is scalable, that is it can calculate exactly how much hydrogen a buckyball of any given size can hold, and it can also tell scientists how overstuffed buckyballs burst open and release their cargo."

cancel ×

193 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

A point worth making- (5, Funny)

Naughty Bob (1004174) | more than 6 years ago | (#22817734)

...and they are strong enough to hold it at a density that rivals the center of Jupiter.
Something the summary doesn't make clear is that Buckyballs are much more convenient in portability terms, as compared with Jupiter.

Re:A point worth making- (2, Funny)

JoeInnes (1025257) | more than 6 years ago | (#22817770)

Summary doesn't make it clear, because it's not true. If you have enough buckyballs to hold as much hydrogen as the centre Jupiter, they'll be just as inconvenient to pop in your briefcase.

However, it is probably easier to stuff buckyballs with hydrogen than trying to cut off pieces of Jupiter.

Re:A point worth making- (2, Informative)

oni (41625) | more than 6 years ago | (#22818010)

as much hydrogen as the centre Jupiter,

So what you're saying is that you don't understand the difference between density and volume.

Re:A point worth making- (1)

JoeInnes (1025257) | more than 6 years ago | (#22819504)

No. In order for buckyballs to hold as much hydrogen as the centre of Jupiter, they would need to have a similar volume as the centre of Jupiter, because they are of a comparable density. Therefore, they're just as non-portable (is that even a word?) as the centre of Jupiter. It was intended as a joke, however, seems I didn't clarify as much as I should have. Sorry.

Not true! They will be VERY convenient for a bit. (3, Interesting)

clonan (64380) | more than 6 years ago | (#22818276)

While I haven't run the math, I think if you compress the hydrogen in Jupiter's core down to briefcase size you will find that it will keep going and form a nice little singularity....very easy to fit in a briefcase....shortly before it EATS the briefcase and then you...

Back of envelope math:

One earth mass will form a singularity at around 10 CC (or so I've heard)

Jupiter's core is about 10 earth masses (or so I've heard)

Ergo one Jupiter core will form a singularity at about 100 CC.

A small briefcase will hold 100 CC plus a little extra.

Only one questions remains...how will we get the core of Jupiter to LOOK like the report I was supposed to read last night?

Re:Not true! They will be VERY convenient for a bi (4, Interesting)

TheHawke (237817) | more than 6 years ago | (#22818540)

One thing is that theoretics will blow singularities out the window. One theory holds that Jupiter's core is a solid mass of crystallized carbon. Yep, you can guess what that is, Diamond. Another theory, with a more stable foundation, is that hydrogen at that pressure and temperature, becomes metallic. Essentially within your little buckyball, you would have a sphere of hydrogen metal. If your buckyball can handle > 100GPa,(over one million atmospheres) then the hydrogen atoms will undergo a phase change and become metallic.

If this is practical and it's energy potential can be tapped, we'll have at our fingertips, an unlimited power source that won't kill you with radiation.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metallic_hydrogen [wikipedia.org]

Re:Not true! They will be VERY convenient for a bi (1)

clonan (64380) | more than 6 years ago | (#22818620)

ummm....I hope you are suggesting that we could pull it from Jupiter's core rather than treating the H2 we compress as an energy SOURCE.

Even pulling it from the core doesn't really help us. What would we use to oxidse it once we have burned ALL the Oxygen?

Can you go into more detail on what you are suggesting?

Re:Not true! They will be VERY convenient for a bi (2, Insightful)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 6 years ago | (#22818716)

...If your buckyball can handle > 100GPa,(over one million atmospheres)...
If your buckyball can handle > 100GPa,(over one million atmospheres), then you should just be able to inject a few under a piston, release the pressure and use the released pressure to drive your engine.

Re:Not true! They will be VERY convenient for a bi (1)

ShaneThePain (929627) | more than 6 years ago | (#22818990)

The metallic hydrogen in the lower layers of Jupiter is a well known fact. Not a theory.

Re:Not true! They will be VERY convenient for a bi (1)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 6 years ago | (#22819310)

A fact about something we can never physically see? Sure...

Re:Not true! They will be VERY convenient for a bi (4, Informative)

ukemike (956477) | more than 6 years ago | (#22819682)

If this is practical and it's energy potential can be tapped, we'll have at our fingertips, an unlimited power source that won't kill you with radiation.
It astonishes me how often /.ers forget the first and second law of thermodynamics. You'll only have the unlimited source of energy after you expended the same amount of energy (and more) generating and compressing the hydrogen to get it into the buckyballs in the first place.

Wake up world. Hydrogen isn't a source of energy any more than capacitors are. It's a way to store energy.

Re:Not true! They will be VERY convenient for a bi (1)

Naughty Bob (1004174) | more than 6 years ago | (#22819250)

A small briefcase will hold 100 CC plus a little extra.
That's would be one tiny briefcase. 100cc is about the size of a small apple, and I don't mean a MacBook Air.

Re:A point worth making- (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22817818)

Also for those of you more familiar with the US measurement system (rather than the SI units): The pressures we're talking about here is almost 200 million library of congresses per VW Beetle.

Re:A point worth making- (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#22818282)

That's a big twinkie.

Exotic pressures (5, Interesting)

Dr. Cody (554864) | more than 6 years ago | (#22817978)

In the nuclear fuels field, we deal with really exotic temperatures and pressures in materials whose bulk properties might be only two or less orders of magnitude from standard temperature and pressure. Did you know that there are people sitting around, calculating the pressure of an individual helium atom in a crystal lattice? The pressures that arise put planetary cores to shame.

Re:A point worth making- (1)

draxredd (661953) | more than 6 years ago | (#22818440)

This is Slashdot.
Jupiter is out.
Reformulate using the density at the center of Uranus as a point of comparison.

Re:A point worth making- (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22819420)

You mean like...

Wow, there's a lot of gas in Uranus?

Hmmm. (4, Insightful)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#22817778)

it can also tell scientists how overstuffed buckyballs burst open and release their cargo."
Well, if these are being burst open, then it means that these have to be built AND loaded each time, and then disposed. So now, we are going to either break apart water (cool, but inefficient), or strip H from fossil fuel (efficient, but bad news for the CO2). Then we are going to build bucky balls, store the hydrogen in it (at 8% volume), sell you the buck ball, your car will magically break the balls (most likely pressure or heat), this will power either an ICE (very low efficiency) or a fuel cell/electric motor (high efficiency, but high cost due to fuel cell).

Of course, we could just take the electricity and charge a battery and then run an electic motor, all at more than double (or even triple) the efficiency and probably half to one third the costs.

Re:Hmmm. (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22817814)

especially if you put this on a big scale: 8% of its own weight? that's like saying a 100 kg H-fuel-tank can store only 8 kg of H. even the most robust and durable tanks surely have a much higher efficiency - without the added difficulty of having to get the H out of the bucky ball.

this research is nice to know, but completely impractical.

Re:Hmmm. (1)

ehrichweiss (706417) | more than 6 years ago | (#22819042)

"8% of its own weight?"

The GP didn't say 8% of its own *weight*, they said *volume*. And the Buckyballs store it at 8% of it's normal volume, hence "concentrated", not expanded as you seem to be implying.

Re:Hmmm. (1)

turtleAJ (910000) | more than 6 years ago | (#22818038)

I understand your point, but I think you misinterpreted theirs.

it can also tell scientists how overstuffed buckyballs burst open and release their cargo.
I think they are saying that they can study how an erronously overstuffed buckyball can burst. As in analyzing and engineering failure/problem.
I do not remember the diameters, but I would be willing to suspect they are retreiving the H2 atoms between the Carbon rings of a buckyball... or heck, maybe they are not planning on using a 'ball' at all. Maybe they plan on using buckyballs' geometries for nanotubes and similar storage 'containers'.
Too early for RTFA.

In addition, it is worth mentioning that,

The buckyballs can contain up to 8% of their weight in hydrogen,...
Hydrogen's Atomic weight: 1.00794
Carbon's Atomic weight: 12.0107


Roughly 12 orders of magnitude more... per weight.
Sounds like fun!

Re:Hmmm. (2, Interesting)

Bloodoflethe (1058166) | more than 6 years ago | (#22819140)

Point of contention [wikipedia.org] . I believe you meant to say that the difference in weight is a factor of 12.

Either way you slice it, the weight of a container is always much greater than the weight of the compressed gas within it. In fact the best weight I've seen for a compressed hydrogen container is 6% of the container's (including the hydrogen) overall weight. This buckeyball is about 7.5% (8/108). That's a fairly significant increase in storage capacity.

Re:Hmmm. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22818316)

Dude, right now my "buckyballs" are overstuffed and ready to release their cargo, preferably all over someone's face. You have a female friend that can help me in this pursuit of science?

Re:Hmmm. (1)

Alwin Henseler (640539) | more than 6 years ago | (#22818426)

or strip H from fossil fuel (efficient, but bad news for the CO2)
Provided you have an efficient process, that would be fine as long as you don't burn the remaining carbon-rich compound (heavy oils / solid carbon). Read: as long as you use only the hydrogen component as fuel, which gives pure water vapor when you burn it.

Re:Hmmm. (2, Insightful)

mudetroit (855132) | more than 6 years ago | (#22818630)

I am in know way saying that this is a perfect solution, but a carrying method for using hydrogen as a fuel is a better long term alternative for us then batteries storing electrial energy.

The fundamental problem with batteries is that sooner or later the chemical process that you are taking advantage of breaks down and you are left with a battery that no longer functions. As most batteries, actually all the ones I am aware of, are made with particularly noxious chemical compounds now you have the problem of what to do with the no longer functional battery. Let's review the common options:
1.) Burn it - Not so great for the air.
2.) Toss it in a landfill - Sooner or later even the best toxic landfills develop leaks. Not so great for the land or water.
3.) Recycle it - Typically involves large amounts of energy with some nasty chemical by products. Again not so great for land, water, or air depending non where the byproducts go.

Hydrogen, unless someone can present evidence to the contrary, almost has to be our portable energy source of the future. And if you consider fusion reactors as our best fixed source of energy then it is really the energy source in that case as well.

Re:Hmmm. (1)

bogeyjlg (917473) | more than 6 years ago | (#22818846)

Or perhaps there could be a way to put that carbon to use making buckyballs. Just an idea. I am not ensure what the exact process of producing a buckyball entails but I do know it involves carbon.

8% weight is a bad way to put it (1)

Gopal.V (532678) | more than 6 years ago | (#22817782)

Considering Fullerine is C-60 and therefore weighs 720p (ha! protons) and hydrogen atoms weigh exactly 2, this means that they can hold ~30 hydrogen atoms in it?

Oddly, I think the issue would be balancing the containment energy of the buckyball versus the energy burning the hydrogen released. There *might* be a sweet spot in the number of hydrogen stable inside versus the tickle required to make the ball release them, for this to make sense.

Re:8% weight is a bad way to put it (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22817906)

Considering Fullerine is C-60 and therefore weighs 720p (ha! protons) and hydrogen atoms weigh exactly 2, this means that they can hold ~30 hydrogen atoms in it?

Are you thinking of hydrogen molecules or deuterium atoms? It's hard to tell. The former would be good for burning but hard to get the release energy, the latter for fusion and easier to get the balls to open up.

Re:8% weight is a bad way to put it (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 6 years ago | (#22818224)

> ...hydrogen atoms weigh exactly 2...

One.

Re:8% weight is a bad way to put it (1)

drooling-dog (189103) | more than 6 years ago | (#22819416)

He must be referring to H2 molecules...

Re:8% weight is a bad way to put it (3, Interesting)

gm0e (872436) | more than 6 years ago | (#22818490)

Like it or not, percent weight is the common metric to compare hydrogen storage methods. Around 6% by weight, the energy/mass ratio of molecular hydrogen is in the ballpark of gasoline, so 6% is the target you hear all the hydrogen storage scientists talking about. Of course what weight percent sweeps under the carpet are the important issues like stability after many charge/discharges, energy required per cycle, and the operating temperature range. Anybody claiming near or over 6% is cutting major corners on one of those areas. In this case, the buckyball bursting open to release H2 is not an easily reversible step so it will have a lifetime of exactly one discharge before the leftover carbon has to be reclaimed and re-packed with H2.

As someone who does model calculations involving buckyballs myself, this is a very intriguing calculation. But if I showed this to my buddies down the hall who do fullerene chemistry, they would have a few questions about how they are supposed to pack that much H2 in a fullerene and then scale the process industrially.

Re:8% weight is a bad way to put it (1)

drooling-dog (189103) | more than 6 years ago | (#22819546)

If it's 8% by weight, then 100 grams of C60 can hold 8 g of H2, which is 4 moles or about 90 liters (or 3.2 cubic feet) at standard atmosperic pressure & temp. Sounds more impressive when you convert to volume, doesn't it?

It's going to take a whole lot of C60 to store enough H2 to get you very far, though.

Re:8% weight is a bad way to put it (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 6 years ago | (#22819700)

> Sounds more impressive when you convert to volume, doesn't it?

Not when you remember that hydrogen gas at STP is much less dense than air.

Hydrogen? (1, Insightful)

mlwmohawk (801821) | more than 6 years ago | (#22817800)

All this rush to store hydrogen, why not find a way to extract it WITHOUT creating CO2. Currently all commercial processes for extracting hydrogen use fossil fuels to do so.

Maybe solar and/or wind will be used, but the efficiency is still low.

Re:Hydrogen? (1)

kvezach (1199717) | more than 6 years ago | (#22817848)

There are many well known ways to extract hydrogen without creating carbon dioxide (electrolysis from renewable source of your choice, molten salt or gaseous generation IV reactors with thermocracking, etc); they're just not viable.

Re:Hydrogen? (1)

mlwmohawk (801821) | more than 6 years ago | (#22817902)

I said "commercial" which I'm sure you accept also implies "viable."

Re:Hydrogen? (1)

kvezach (1199717) | more than 6 years ago | (#22818044)

Yes. The important part, however, is that the limit is one of economics, and not of physics; the economic situation may change, so it's reasonable to do research into how to store hydrogen (as in this case) or use it (as with fuel cells and so on) even if hydrogen extraction is too expensive at the moment, or the technology hasn't gone from research to engineering yet.

Re:Hydrogen? (1)

with a 'c' (1260048) | more than 6 years ago | (#22817926)

Thermodynamics anyone? If we need to use energy to extract hydrogen then why not use the energy to do other real work the first place? Hydrogen is not a power source but it may make a reasonably efficient battery or power storage medium. Let's not forget that.

Re:Hydrogen? (1)

BVis (267028) | more than 6 years ago | (#22818504)

I was just about to post a comment saying that exact thing. The biggest problem with hydrogen as an energy storage medium is .. storage. (Nightmare of grammar, that is.) If this, theoretically, can solve that issue in a way that can become commercially viable (and that's an engineering problem, which we've become pretty good at overcoming) that's HUGE. No big pressurized tanks, no risk of leaks, (or, potentially, explosive combustion.. which is actually a much lower risk than the Hindenburg chicken littles would have you believe), no additional (hugely expensive) infrastructure. There's potential to be able to transport hydrogen like gravel, or (more likely) gasoline. (I'm guessing they could make a slurry of some kind, but I'm not a molecular physicist or a chemist.)

Agreed, the details are muddy, but IMHO this is well worth pursuing (and funding.) Combine this with high-efficiency photovoltaics (and from what I've seen, there's a huge breakthrough in the wings involving using a much wider spectrum of sunlight for energy conversion; current tech only uses one wavelength) and you have a near-100% clean energy source (provided the storage/extraction of hydrogen from these buckyballs can be a green process, which I'm not so sure about.)

The biggest issue with solar now is energy storage, but people are already using hydrogen for that (in large, expensive, pressurized tanks, granted). This seems like a logical next step, if it can make it out of the laboratory.

Re:Hydrogen? (1)

JJJK (1029630) | more than 6 years ago | (#22818188)

I don't understand why so many people seem to think that the entire scientific/engineering community can only focus on one thing at once.
It's like saying "Well, but they STILL don't have a cure for cancer" when reading about some new invention or something.

I'm sure there is a lot of people working on renewable energy sources as well.

The ultimate goal is to find ways of extracting, storing and burning hydrogen at high efficiency, without pollution.
Somebody comes up with a solution to either one of those problems (keep in mind that you can't really force great ideas...), then I think that's a good thing.

Re:Hydrogen? (1)

0olong (876791) | more than 6 years ago | (#22818496)

I'm getting so sick and tired of reading comments like this on every /. article mentioning H2.

energy STORAGE =/= energy SOURCE. These 2 areas of engineering are distinct, so keep on topic, ok?

When talking about energy storage we only care about 3 things: density, degradation and safety.

H2 then, is obviously not ideal, but at least try to make your objections relevant.

That's nice and all... (4, Insightful)

Muad'Dave (255648) | more than 6 years ago | (#22817830)


...but each burst buckyball is 60 carbon atoms floating around in your fuel. Aren't you right back to "hydrocarbons" if you burn this fuel, and won't the carbon poison fuel cell membranes? It's a cool trick _iff_ you can strip the carbon out efficiently before the hydrogen is used.

Re:That's nice and all... (3, Informative)

Alwin Henseler (640539) | more than 6 years ago | (#22818166)

No prob. The issue here is finding an (energy-)efficient / easy way to make the buckyballs store and release hydrogen. But once the hydrogen is released, I can't imagine it would be hard to separate 2-atom hydrogen molecules from 60-atom buckyball molecules. Or find a way to do so.

Some hints: at room temperature, buckyball molecules may behave as solid or liquid-like material, or be dissolved in other liquids, while hydrogen is a thin gas. And buckyball molecules come in different sizes (number of C-atoms).

Summarized: the carbon here should be regarded as a carrier, not part of the fuel.

Re:That's nice and all... (1)

Muad'Dave (255648) | more than 6 years ago | (#22818678)

Thanks for the reply. I guess the bottom line is how small the buckyball fragments are. My fear is that upon rupture, some of the released hydrogen will combine with the newly-ruptured bucky fragments, creating those evil hydrocarbons. Unless we find some extremely clever scientists, I doubt we'll see buckyballs with a little trap door on them to let the hydrogen out. barring that, there will be various sizes of carbon structures floating around (I liken it to nuclear fission where there's a two-humped distribution of fission fragments - perhaps I'm way off base).

Re:That's nice and all... (1)

clonan (64380) | more than 6 years ago | (#22818710)

Remember, hydrocarbons aren't "bad"

If the Carbon was extracted from the air to create the buckyballs then there is no problem with burning them...if they were extracted from oil we have an issue regardless.

Re:That's nice and all... (1)

Muad'Dave (255648) | more than 6 years ago | (#22819110)

True, if as you say the carbon is atmosphere-o-genic. I fear that the easiest (and cheapest) route may be to crack aliphatic hydrocarbons from fossil fuels into both the buckyballs and H2, so we're no better off than burning it outright.

Re:That's nice and all... (1)

clonan (64380) | more than 6 years ago | (#22819170)

absolutly agree...until fossil fuels start to become scarse and the price of extracting them from the ground goes up while at the same time solar, and nuclear (Thorium maybe) power prices come down.

Eventually, probably in the next two decades it will become economically feasible to extract carbon from the air rather than the ground.

Re:That's nice and all... (2, Insightful)

Farmer Crack-Ass (1140103) | more than 6 years ago | (#22819770)

The biggest expense of nuclear power is not the fuel, but the extreme initial capital cost for building the plant. Fuel is actually a pretty small fraction of the cost for nuclear power - the price of fuel could double and the KWh cost would rise very little.

Re:That's nice and all... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22818650)

Palladium has the strange ability to pass hydrogen [wikipedia.org] through it when heated. I could see a mechanism like this as being ideal for filtering the carbon out of the fuel stream.

Re:That's nice and all... (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 6 years ago | (#22819764)

It doesn't seem like that cool a trick anyway. 8%? That's a lot of fuel tank and not very much fuel.

So All We Really Need... (5, Funny)

camperdave (969942) | more than 6 years ago | (#22817846)

So all we really need is a really big buckyball, and we've solved the hydrogen storage problem.

Of course, we still need to figure out how to get the soft gooey hydrogen inside the chocolatey pocket of the buckyball, especially at "center of jupiter" pressures. Maybe the folks at Cadbury might reveal their secret. We'll also need to figure out how to get the hydrogen out once we're ready to use it.

Re:So All We Really Need... (0, Offtopic)

JZdziarski (1259868) | more than 6 years ago | (#22817872)

Well, at least Bucky will be pleased to hear this.

Re:So All We Really Need... (0, Offtopic)

camperdave (969942) | more than 6 years ago | (#22818014)

I'm sorry to have to tell you this, but Bucky's dead [wikipedia.org] .

Re:So All We Really Need... (1, Funny)

datablaster (999781) | more than 6 years ago | (#22818544)

Bucky's not dead! I saw him buying gas at a truck stop outside of Memphis. Kept mumbling something about tensegrity and the Elvis Effect...

Re:So All We Really Need... (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 6 years ago | (#22819074)

I'm sorry to have to tell you this, but Bucky's dead.

No he's not. He [wikipedia.org] is in prison though ;)

Clearly I'm missing something (4, Insightful)

hanshotfirst (851936) | more than 6 years ago | (#22817858)

An alternative to carbon-fuel which requires storing that alternative in carbon?

Once you crack those buckeyballs open to get the H out, the C has to go somewhere, right?

What am I missing, here?

Re:Clearly I'm missing something (1)

Dr. Cody (554864) | more than 6 years ago | (#22818034)

Don't take any pictures. [sciencedaily.com]

Re:Clearly I'm missing something (1)

Dekker3D (989692) | more than 6 years ago | (#22819716)

that should be interesting. the flash would cause the buckyballs to suddenly expand slightly, and apparently release a lot of heat. the hydrogen would quickly decompress though, so it'd get extremely cold. makes me wonder if this would burn or freeze?

Re:Clearly I'm missing something (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22818116)

What am I missing, here?

How desperate you can get for funding.

Re:Clearly I'm missing something (2, Informative)

oxidiser (1118877) | more than 6 years ago | (#22818214)

You're comparing apples and oranges here. The buckyballs DO contain carbon, but that fact alone does not make them dangerous to the environment. Carbon as fuel is bad because it gives off CO2 as a byproduct of burning. In this case the carbon is just the container, the hydrogen is the fuel. Unless of course I'm missing something, which is entirely possible.

Re:Clearly I'm missing something (1)

clonan (64380) | more than 6 years ago | (#22818432)

Also you should remember that CO2 is not "bad" per say.

It is only the addition of EXTRA CO2 that is bad. If we cracked the CO2 already in the air to make the fulerenes and then burned them it wouldn't add anything to the atmosphere at all.

Re:Clearly I'm missing something (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 6 years ago | (#22819606)

> If we cracked the CO2 already in the air to make the fulerenes and then burned them it
> wouldn't add anything to the atmosphere at all.

If we cracked the CO2 already in the air (and some water) to make octane and then burned it, it wouldn't add anything to the atmosphere at all.

8%? Why, that's more than half as good as octane! (2, Insightful)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 6 years ago | (#22817880)

Otherwise known as gasoline.

Pumping Gas (2, Funny)

infonography (566403) | more than 6 years ago | (#22818296)

My question is how to you stick the nozzle in from the gas pump. And when will it work in my Hummer? Will they start installing Electron Microscopes at Chevron?

Too easy (0, Offtopic)

mokiejovis (540519) | more than 6 years ago | (#22817928)

...and it can also tell scientists how overstuffed buckyballs burst open and release their cargo.

That's what she said!

Read the Warning... (5, Funny)

ayjay29 (144994) | more than 6 years ago | (#22817930)

Pregnant women, the elderly and children under 10 should avoid prolonged exposure to Hydrogen Filled Buckyball.

Caution: Hydrogen Filled Buckyball may suddenly accelerate to dangerous speeds.

Hydrogen Filled Buckyball contains a liquid core, which, if exposed due to rupture, should not be touched, inhaled, or looked at.

Do not use Hydrogen Filled Buckyball on concrete.

Discontinue use of Hydrogen Filled Buckyball if any of the following occurs: Itching, Vertigo, Dizziness, Tingling in extremities, Loss of balance or coordination, Slurred speech, Temporary Blindness, Profuse sweating, Heart Palpitations.

If Hydrogen Filled Buckyball begins to smoke, get away immediately. Seek shelter and cover head.

Hydrogen Filled Buckyball may stick to certain types of skin.

When not in use, Hydrogen Filled Buckyball should be returned to its special container and kept under refrigeration... Failure to do so relieves the makers of Hydrogen Filled Buckyball, Wacky Products Incorporated, and its parent company Global Chemical Unlimited, of any and all liability.

If Hydrogen Filled Buckyball should become soiled, wipe gently with a soft cloth moistened with sulfuric acid.

Ingredients of Hydrogen Filled Buckyball include an unknown glowing substance which fell to Earth, presumably from outer space.

Hydrogen Filled Buckyball has been shipped to our troops in Saudi Arabia and is also being dropped by our warplanes on Iraq.

Do not taunt Hydrogen Filled Buckyball.

Hydrogen Filled Buckyball comes with a lifetime guarantee.
Hydrogen Filled Buckyball. ACCEPT NO SUBSTITUTES!

Re:Read the Warning... (1)

Alwin Henseler (640539) | more than 6 years ago | (#22818312)

Hydrogen Filled Buckyball contains a liquid core, which, if exposed due to rupture, should not be touched, inhaled, or looked at.
I'd quote this one as: "Do not look at Hydrogen Filled Buckyballs with remaining eye."

Re:Read the Warning... (1)

Huge_UID (1089143) | more than 6 years ago | (#22818862)

I started seeing "Hydrogen Billed Fuckyball".

Devolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22817936)

Cool -- So instead of about 10 LBS empty, the fuel tank in my truck would weigh 400 LBS.

Glad to see we are making progress.

Next week... (1)

downix (84795) | more than 6 years ago | (#22817980)

And next week the announcement of the Hindenberg II...

That's Nice (2, Interesting)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 6 years ago | (#22818084)

Could densely packed hydrogen be encouraged to fuse somehow? Perhaps with some sort of "laser"?

Re:That's Nice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22818600)

In short -- No.

If it is only 8% of the mass of (very light) Carbon buckey balls, that is not much density. Getting hydrogen to have any significant density is really tough. That's the whole problem. Even what we call "liquid" hydrogen, is actually closer to a really dense gas (think really cold, flowing air). Slush hydrogen actually does get it to the point where you can actually get lots of it stored in a (somewhat) practical fuel tank, although making it, and the tank is a huge challenge. Making, storing, transferring liquid or slush hydrogen requires a very tight process, or the entire facility, tanks, vehicles, etc. tend to simply go away.

We've even made solid hydrogen. [wikipedia.org] but even that is still a ways (as far as we know) from getting it to fuse.

Film at 11 (1)

mac1235 (962716) | more than 6 years ago | (#22818126)

Call me when they can get the hydrogen out again...

The rest of the press release (3, Funny)

The Fun Guy (21791) | more than 6 years ago | (#22818170)

"Professor, that's amazing! The buckyballs will bind the hydrogen so well that it won't leak out of the container?"

"That's correct. We're very pleased with these results."

"And to release the hydrogen to be able to use it, you just crack open the buckyballs, right?"

"I beg your pardon? No, no, it's bound extremely tightly to the carbon matrix. That's what we've developed, a way to bind hydrogen."

"But to actually use the hydrogen, professor, you have to get it back out. How do you get it out of the buckyballs?"

"Ah, well, that's something that we'll address in year 4 of the grant."

"Which is...?"

"2011."

Meh. Methane has about 20 percent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22818174)

Just do the numbers. Methane (CH4) has 12 weight units of C plus 4 of H.

Makes 25 per cent H.

This buckyball thing may be cool for other things, but as a storage...

Aluminum can store hydrogen too (1)

nbritton (823086) | more than 6 years ago | (#22818244)

Hydrogen is soluble in aluminum. Its solubility varies directly with temperature and the square root of pressure. During the cooling and solidification of molten aluminum, dissolved hydrogen in excess of the extremely low solid solubility may precipitate in molecular form, resulting in the formation of primary and/or secondary voids.

Moisture in the atmosphere dissociates at the molten metal surface, offering a concentration of atomic hydrogen capable of diffusing into the melt. The barrier oxide of aluminum resists hydrogen solution by this mechanism, but disturbances of the melt surface that break the oxide barrier result in rapid hydrogen dissolution.

Two types or forms of hydrogen porosity may occur in aluminum. Inter-dendritic porosity, which is encountered when hydrogen contents are sufficiently high that hydrogen rejected at the solidification front results in solution pressures above atmospheric. Secondary (micron-size) porosity occurs when dissolved hydrogen contents are low, and void formation is characteristically subcritical.

The disposition of hydrogen in a solidified structure depends on the dissolved hydrogen level and the conditions under which solidification occurs. Because the presence of hydrogen porosity is a result of diffusion-controlled nucleation and growth, decreasing the hydrogen concentration and increasing the rate of solidification act to suppress void formation and growth.

Source: http://www.key-to-metals.com/Article83.htm [key-to-metals.com]

Don't you mean "could" store hydrogen? (5, Informative)

Fysiks Wurks (949375) | more than 6 years ago | (#22818248)

Let's RTFA a bit: "'Based on our calculations, it appears that some buckyballs are capable of holding volumes of hydrogen so dense as to be almost metallic,' said lead researcher Boris Yakobson"..." If a feasible way to produce hydrogen-filled buckyballs is developed, Yakobson said, it might be possible to store them as a powder."

What a difference one word can make in a summary. News flash, "Miss Universe can have sex with Slashdot users! According to simulations conducted with fold-out pictures in Randy's basement..um...research center"

The simulation work is pretty cool, the headline and summary can and does mislead the reader.

Look, I don't wish to be rude... (1)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 6 years ago | (#22818294)

...but when someone puts a new word like "buckyballs" in the title of a posting, rather than trying to outsmug the rest of us by looking more intelligent, can they also briefly explain in the first paragraph what that word actually is?

There's me over here in "The Old World" looking at the article thinking "Buckyballs? What are they then? Some brand of American breakfast cereal or cured meat product being a spherical version of beef jerky? How can processed foodstuffs be used as containers for hydrogen? And why when there's perfectly good pressurised cannisters available?"

A brief explanation of a word allows me to quickly decide if an article is going to be of interest to me or not - in this case, it's all that high-brow hoity-toity chemistry nonsense where there's absolutely bugger all chance of talking about Linux, music, computer games or laughing at the Vista users.

So basically I'm off to better threads.

Thanks for listening and "Toodle Pip" from Blighty!

Re:Look, I don't wish to be rude... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22818520)

to summarize your post, then:

Get off my lawn!

Re:Look, I don't wish to be rude... (1)

Alwin Henseler (640539) | more than 6 years ago | (#22818636)

Ehmm, a *new* word? Look [google.com] here [wikipedia.org] ...

Re:Look, I don't wish to be rude... (1)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 6 years ago | (#22819066)

Yes, okay, I admit to being about as knowledgeable in chemistry as a subnormal wooden rocking horse and that I care little for chemical reactions unless the end result is lukewarm pint of British real ale - but I'm sure that if I throw a few of the more wackier UNIX tool names at you and asked you to tell me what they do without looking them up elsewhere, you'd struggle.

So ner-ny-ner-ny-ner-ner!

Re:Look, I don't wish to be rude... (1)

egomaniac (105476) | more than 6 years ago | (#22818734)

The word "buckyball" is hardly new. I'm pretty sure it's been around since the mid-1980s, and I don't consider it to be any more obscure than, say, "triglyceride". Yet few people complain when the word triglyceride appears in an article without a definition.

And is it really that hard to look it up in Google? I'm pretty sure you've got Internet access, or else your ability to post here is a really neat trick.

Re:Look, I don't wish to be rude... (1)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 6 years ago | (#22818884)

Yes, I accept that entirely but this is a news site which means that a chemistry layperson like myself needs to see a potted summary of what's being reported in plain English.

If all you chemistry boffins want to sit in here and talk hydrocarbons all day, that's fine by me. But if you're trying to maximise the audience and interest of an article, spare a thought for the likes of me who rarely get their noses out of UNIX manuals who would probably be quite interested in reading about other stuff occasionally, as long as it didn't require bringing up half of the Internet in my browser to translate it first.

Re:Look, I don't wish to be rude... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22818852)

I thought that you Euros were supposed to be smarter and more sophisticated than us "dumbass Americans," at least according to the standard /bot groupthink around here. Shhh...you're ruining it for the rest of them!

Re:Look, I don't wish to be rude... (1)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 6 years ago | (#22818988)

If I continue to engage in this conversation with you about the differences in sophistication between Europeans and Americans, you know precisely how it will all end.

You'll question me about why the British can't get proper dental treatment and why French/Italian women don't shave their armpits and I'll ask you about why you lot were late for the World War II and demand that we have the blueprints for the Harrier [wikipedia.org] back.

So let us politely agree that we have now reached that point and go from there, shall we without all that "needless mucking about in the middle" as the late Douglas Adams once said.

Re:Look, I don't wish to be rude... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22819054)

You're on the wrong site. Slashdot is a technical forum.

Not every technical person knows what a buckyball is, but at least they know how to find out. This differs from your average non-technical telly viewer, who expects everything to be presented to him in noddy form.

Re:Look, I don't wish to be rude... (1)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 6 years ago | (#22819102)

Oh now look, don't take it all that serious, please.

It was meant to be a light-hearted comment taking the pee out of my own polite British attitude as much as anything else.

Lighten up, have a bit of fun and try to see the funny side.

Superconductor encasement? (1)

Ioldanach (88584) | more than 6 years ago | (#22818378)

I don't see anywhere in the article where they mention how many gigapascals that is, but I see varying references that depending on how deep you mean, they could mean anywhere from 140 to 300 GPa. At that pressure, this might make a suitable container for the room temperature superconducting silicon [slashdot.org] mentioned earlier this week on slashdot. So, we have a compound that can compress to a room temperature superconductor. We have a container to keep it compressed in. Now we just need to figure out how to stuff it all in there!

How about fusion instead of fuel cells... (3, Interesting)

clonan (64380) | more than 6 years ago | (#22818530)

Everyone assumes that these will be used for fuel cells, but why not use them for fusion?

I know one technique has been laser fusion. Target several lasers at one point and they reinforce each other. Then drop in a tiny sphere of fusion fuel surrounded by glass of plastic and the lasers cause the sphere to exploded both outward and in which increases the pressure enough to cause fusion.

This concept has to be more efficient with a VERY high pressure fuel. So we give our packed buckyballs a charge and electromagnetically shoot them into the center of the lasers and POOF you have fusion..

Just a thought, any comments?

Energy costs (1)

gnixdep (629913) | more than 6 years ago | (#22818804)

The cost of splitting hydrogen from water, then recombining it in a fuel cell is huge. It operates at approximately 35% efficiency. Lithium-ion batteries have a round trip efficiency of over 90%, are cheaper, and can be recharged in minutes.

Hydrogen has been passed by as a technology, and nobody seems to realize it yet, because it has enough capital behind it which is pushing for it's adoption so the investments made can be paid off.

H, a power source (2, Interesting)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 6 years ago | (#22818982)

Hydrogen can be an excellent power source

Hydrogen is more of a battery than a fuel and it is ALWAYS by DEFINITION going to have negative ER/EI. Why? Because the energy required to pull hydrogen out of water or methane or petroleum is going to be greater than the energy you get from burning the hydrogen. What the "hydrogen economy" seeks to do is to protect the sunken cost of the suburbs, and the sunken costs of the automotive infrastructure, both of which are joined at the hip and are completely unsustainable. It's a fools errand and will fail. There is also the not inconsiderable energy that goes into making the bucky balls, etc.

Face it: gigs up. Game over. Prepare to slowly powerdown. [google.ca]

RS

Here's How They Work (Informative!) (5, Informative)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 6 years ago | (#22819002)

Okay, no one in a modded-up post on this story understands the concept. Buckyballs look like soot. You have a tank filled with this soot in your car. Then you flow very high pressure hydrogen gas over them for awhile (this has been done for years with carbon nanotubes, which offer more storage but because they only confine in 2 dimensions, unlike the balls, they don't provide the capillary forces necessary to make this easy). Hydrogen then adsorbs (notice ADsorbs, not ABsorbs) onto the inner surfaces of the Buckyballs. Capillary forces, like those that cause liquid to be drawn into a straw, allow the hydrogens to live essentially as liquids inside the balls, meaning that when you remove the high pressure hydrogen flow, the hydrogren in the buckyballs doesn't all immediately fly out. Hydrogen leaks out of the balls slowly, becoming a gas and maintaining a roughly constant pressure in the tank, and you then siphon off the hydrogen that you want to power your car. You can control the leakage rate by changing the temperature.

You then reuse the Buckyballs by flowing hydrogen gas over them when they're empty. They're 100% reusable storage, not tiny gas tanks. Someone mod this up so that the dozens of "oh nos, Buckyballs hurt teh environments" posts go away.

Re:Here's How They Work (Informative!) (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 6 years ago | (#22819448)

> Hydrogen leaks out of the balls slowly, becoming a gas and maintaining a roughly constant
> pressure in the tank...

What happens when you leave the car parked over the weekend? Seems like the pressure is going to rise to the "very high pressure" at which it was put in the balls.

Re:Here's How They Work (Informative!) (4, Informative)

mapsjanhere (1130359) | more than 6 years ago | (#22819762)

You will reach an equilibrium pressure in your tank at which adsorption and desorption occur at the same speed. The big question here is kinetics anyway. How fast does the hydrogen adsorb, and how fast can it be released? The whole idea only becomes practical if you can "fill your tank" in a reasonable time and with decent equipment requirements, lets say 5 min at 2000 psi. And the release has to be fast enough to allow an engine to generate 100 kW or so without depleting the hydrogen flow (or needing a m^3 of tank).

Wow, I was just asking about.... (1)

otis wildflower (4889) | more than 6 years ago | (#22819044)

... something similar [slashdot.org] ... Presumably a Buckytube wouldn't be able to handle as much pressure, but could it handle enough to compress silane into superconductivity? Sealed off at each end with, I guess you'd call it a Buckydome?

Just another good idea, with no way to execute... (1)

ZonkerWilliam (953437) | more than 6 years ago | (#22819214)

Good idea, but without a solid method to encapsulate and remove the hydrogen, in a rapid cost effective manner, this is just a scientific curiosity.

trap door required (1)

dougwhitehead (573106) | more than 6 years ago | (#22819476)

Yes this is not practical today. This will likely require an atom or two of something else that can mimic a carbon bond in certain conditions and not under other. Open the trap doors, compress the hydrogen, close the trap doors. Now the hydrogen is trapped in the buckyball powder. It would make a nice release mechanism as well.

Currently this is science fiction.

Re:Just another good idea, with no way to execute. (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 6 years ago | (#22819482)

And of course no one will look for such a method because this is just a "scientific curiosity".

Weight ratio (0)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 6 years ago | (#22819324)

Hmm, I wonder how much weight the bucky balls add to the whole solution. If it does not add too much weight, maybe it could be a solution for future airships. Would have to do some research here.

memories of 1992 (1)

u8i9o0 (1057154) | more than 6 years ago | (#22819614)

A classmate of mine in a chemistry class was discussing with the instructor some potential practical applications for fullerenes, and the only example I can remember was that of hydrogen storage for automobile fuel. I also remember him referring to Popular Science Magazine for that example.

This scene occurred in late July of 1992.

I never saw the actual article, but maybe someone here can confirm this. I would assume it to have been published sometime within 1 year before that date.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?