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How to store hydrogen in metal hydrides?

The University of Stavanger is investing in hydrogen research. Olena Zavorotynska is one of several researchers who, with the support of the Akademia agreement, will take a closer look at the opportunities hydrogen provides us in the energy mix of the future.

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Olena Zavorotynska. Foto: Kjersti Riiber
Olena Zavorotynska. Photo: Kjersti Riiber

Associate Professor Olena Zavorotynska at the Department of Mathematics and Physics will launch a new research project that investigates metal hydrides and their ability to absorb and store hydrogen. A new PhD candidate will be hired soon, and the project is hopefully well underway over the summer.

"Hydrogen is a light gas that dissipates quickly. Therefore, we must find good solutions for storing and transporting the gas. Metal hydrides are a type of chemical compounds that can absorb hydrogen like sponges. In this project, we will take a closer look at a class of metal hydrides that absorb and release hydrogen at relatively low temperature, Zavorotynska explains.

Fundamental research

The density of hydrogen in a volume unit of a metal hydride can be much higher than in liquid hydrogen. Therefore, metal hydrides are of interest for hydrogen storage.

"This was a hot topic 20 years ago. Then the interest slightly dropped. Now hydrogen research is relevant again. Part of the reason for this is that we have gained more confidence in renewable energy. You do not necessarily look for cheap solutions, but for clean energy solutions, says Zavorotynska. In addition, renewable energy solutions become more and more affordable.

The project she is leading will initially be mostly fundamental research, but eventually she hopes for possible collaborative projects with industry.

"We focus on materials for stationary hydrogen storage. This niche application can be of interest to use in energy storage, for example, in remote locations and for marine industry."

Strategic

The hydrogen research at the University of Stavanger is supported by a collaboration agreement with Equinor, the Akademia agreement. This is an agreement that runs over five years. In the agreement, there was room for a new sub-project, and the choice was hydrogen research.

"Hydrogen is a strategically important area for both us and Equinor. It connects energy to green transformation, says vice dean for research Helge Bøvik Larsen at the Faculty of Science and Technology.

In addition to Zavorotynska's project on hydrogen storage, Professor Mohsen Assadi and Professor Ove Njå have also received funding for research projects. Assadi is leading a project on hydrogen as part of larger energy systems, while Njå is looking more closely at hydrogen storage and safety. Each of the three projects receives funding for a PhD position.

The Academia agreement is 37.5 million NOK - 7.5 million NOK annually over five years.

Text: Kjersti Riiber