Scrolling Headlines:

UMass basketball lands transfer Kieran Hayward from LSU -

May 18, 2017

UMass basketball’s Donte Clark transferring to Coastal Carolina -

May 17, 2017

Report: Keon Clergeot transfers to UMass basketball program -

May 15, 2017

Despite title-game loss, Meg Colleran’s brilliance in circle was an incredible feat -

May 14, 2017

UMass softball loses in heartbreaker in A-10 title game -

May 14, 2017

Navy sinks UMass women’s lacrosse 23-11 in NCAA tournament second round, ending Minutewomen’s season -

May 14, 2017

UMass softball advances to A-10 Championship game -

May 13, 2017

UMass basketball adds Rutgers transfer Jonathan Laurent -

May 13, 2017

UMass women’s lacrosse gets revenge on Colorado, beat Buffs 13-7 in NCAA Tournament First Round -

May 13, 2017

Meg Colleran dominates as UMass softball tops Saint Joseph’s, advances in A-10 tournament -

May 12, 2017

Rain keeps UMass softball from opening tournament play; Minutewomen earn A-10 honors -

May 11, 2017

Former UMass football wide receiver Tajae Sharpe accused of assault in lawsuit -

May 10, 2017

Justice Gorsuch can save the UMass GEO -

May 10, 2017

Minutemen third, Minutewomen finish fifth in Atlantic 10 Championships for UMass track and field -

May 8, 2017

UMass women’s lacrosse wins A-10 title for ninth straight season -

May 8, 2017

Dayton takes two from UMass softball in weekend series -

May 8, 2017

Towson stonewalls UMass men’s lacrosse in CAA Championship; Minutemen season ends after 9-4 loss -

May 6, 2017

Zach Coleman to join former coach Derek Kellogg at LIU Brooklyn -

May 5, 2017

UMass men’s lacrosse advances to CAA finals courtesy of Dan Muller’s heroics -

May 4, 2017

On campus: The liberal assault on free speech -

May 4, 2017

UMass professor works to shrink hydrogen fuel cells

Professor Dimitrios Maroudas of the University of Massachusetts chemical engineering department thinks that briefcase-sized hydrogen car batteries could be on the horizon, thanks to new research attempting to advance hydrogen’s effectiveness as a “green” energy source.

Maroudas, graduate student Andre Muniz and NASA scientist M. Meyyappan were researching carbon nanotubes – tube-shaped structures of carbon atoms which measure billionths of a meter – when they discovered that there is a certain density of nanotubes where hydrogen atoms can form bonds with carbon atoms without swelling and preventing more bonds from being formed. Less swelling in the nanotubes ultimately would mean that hydrogen could finally have a viable storage method. This in turn should lead to smaller, more effective hydrogen batteries reaching the consumer market in the coming decades.

With growing concern over the environmental impact of fossil fuels and the Obama administration’s commitment to ecologically friendly fuels and technologies, this discovery could have major implications.

“It’s [got] big promise because hydrogen’s the cleanest fuel you can imagine,” Maroudas said. “When you burn hydrogen, you get steam.”

The biggest problem with a hydrogen-based economy, Maroudas said, has always been storing the fuel. Hydrogen is the lightest element and its reactivity makes for a very good fuel. However, as Professor John McCarthy of Stanford University wrote in his online journal, “a 15-gallon automobile gasoline tank contains 90 pounds of gasoline. The corresponding hydrogen tank would be 60 gallons, but the hydrogen would weigh only 34 pounds.”

The solution discovered by Maroudas and his team may have solved this problem. Scientists realized as early as 1997 that carbon nanotubes could be used for hydrogen storage. However, they always arranged the nanotubes too densely, so that when they attached the hydrogen atoms, the tubes would swell and prevent further bonds from being formed and  the maximum number of hydrogen atoms could not be attached.

What the group from UMass has done is develop a computer simulation showing that there is a certain point where the swelling cannot go on. Using this knowledge, they were able to calculate a specific optimum density of the carbon nanotubes so that they can swell to their maximum without preventing the hydrogen atoms from forming all the bonds they can.

The research has been supported by a National Science Foundation grant, as well as a Fulbright Scholarship awarded to Muniz. Maroudas believes that this work could be used to build a briefcase-sized car battery that is up to eight percent hydrogen by weight. A hydrogen car battery that miniscule could have the power to transform the way energy is used across the world, and possibly make the future a whole lot “greener.”

Matthew M. Robare can be reached at mrobare@student.umass.edu.

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