DOE Pulse

Compound may be key to hydrogen-powered cars

Sandia engineer Terry Johnson surveys various components of the hydrogen storage system he and his team designed for General Motors. The material used to store the hydrogen – sodium alanate – resides within the tubes. (Photo by Randy Wong)

New Compound

Hydrogen-powered cars are one step closer to reality thanks to a new compound discovered by scientists in the Stanford Institute for Materials and Energy Science at the DOE's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. The newly discovered material is a high-pressure form of ammonia borane, a solid material which itself is already imbued with ample hydrogen. By working with the parent material at high pressure in a hydrogen-enriched atmosphere, the scientists were able to ratchet up the hydrogen content of the material by roughly 50 percent. This new material can store around 30 percent of its weight as useable hydrogen, and may help researchers build a fuel cell small and portable enough to be practical for powering a car.  Learn more at

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