Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

FP6

HYCONES — Result In Brief

Project ID: 32970
Funded under: FP6-NMP
Country: Greece

New hope for hydrogen-powered cars

Hydrogen has been seen as a panacea for the world’s energy crisis, but has so far fallen short of expectations for a variety of reasons. An EU-funded initiative has advanced the use of a radical new material as an excellent candidate for hydrogen storage in mobile applications.
New hope for hydrogen-powered cars
Consumption of carbon-based fossil fuels continues to rise and these energy sources are becoming increasingly depleted. In addition, their burning releases billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere, believed to contribute to global warming.

Given that transportation contributes greatly to CO2 levels and hydrogen has become an attractive energy source, hydrogen’s major use will probably be on the highways. However, hydrogen storage requirements for transportation are much more difficult to satisfy than are those for stationary purposes, such as providing electricity to homes and factories.

One of the greatest stumbling blocks is that, at the environmental temperature required for use in automobiles, hydrogen contains much less energy than an equivalent volume of gasoline. In addition, high-pressure compression of the gas still falls short of mobile targets due to volume, safety and energy considerations.

Researchers on the ‘Hydrogen storage in carbon cones’ (Hycones) project purified carbon cones (CCs), a new form of carbon never seen previously and now produced in industrial quantities with funding provided by the EU.

Intensive modelling has led to significant characterisation of the fundamentals associated with hydrogen storage using this purified material. The CCs are able to store hydrogen efficiently, effectively and inexpensively. Most importantly, the investigators experimentally verified the ability of CCs to release hydrogen at near room temperature, thus confirming its certain potential for use in hydrogen storage for mobile use.

The outcomes of the Hycones project have received international attention. The researchers developed links for cooperation with European and international projects and hydrogen storage programmes, including those within the US Department of Energy.

Thus, EU researchers have developed a radical new material capable of delivering hydrogen for use as energy in transportation applications. The results should have a significant impact on the design and production of hydrogen cars in the future, decreasing our dependence on fossil fuels and protecting the environment. In addition, a European edge in the hydrogen car market could have significant impact on the European job market.

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