Hydrogen Cars to Benefit from Coconut Kernels

The problem with fuel cell cars is that the hydrogen they need to create electricity on board is quite expensive to store safely. Thus a lot more money needs to be invested into the infrastructure, with tougher and safer materials being required. Luckily, the same fruit that many believe it’s the fruit of life comes with the answer.
Coconut 1 photo
Photo: pixabay
Coconut is considered by many as being one of the best fruits nature could share with us; it’s offering both a solid food and a hydrating liquid, comes with saturated fats but good HDL cholesterol, prevents cardiovascular diseases, helps with the metabolism, destroys numerous viruses/bacteria/fungi, contains a high level of electrolytes to restore the body energy and can also be a good material to store hydrogen.

Who would have thought coconuts and cars will mix together? Aparently, a team from the Banaras Hindu University led by professor Viney Dixit did thought about it and their study promises to return positive results for the automotive industry.

According to the researchers’ paper “the solid state storage in the form of hydride is the efficient and safe route of hydrogen storage. In order for hydrogen to become viable, certain specific limits on storage capacity, reversibility, cost effectiveness and abundant availability of the storage material are crucial aspects which must be fulfilled.”

Coconut kernels to the rescue

The team’s purpose is to find out a type of material that can indeed present the above mentioned qualities required to be a good storage material. Carbon is one of the best materials to store hydrogen and can be produced thorough a carbonization of many natural materials. And here comes the coconut biomass.

While coconuts offer a generous amount of carbon through their hard shells, the other very useful material is their biomass, or kernel, inside, which contains fatty acids, organic acids, potassium, magnesium, sodium, calcium and more. This makes the carbon derived from it to be very different from other types of carbon obtained through similar processes.

The way these kernels are constructed at molecular level pushed scientists into studying them thoroughly and find a way to create carbon that stores hydrogen through absorption of molecules.

There is a big challenge however, since this type of carbon-storage seems viable only when frozen at liquid nitrogen temperature (77K/-196C/-321F). The studies will continue to find a way turn the coconut-biomass-based carbon work as an acceptable hydrogen container at room temperature.

Coconut shells and kernels are an abundant material that sometimes gets wasted, representing a great source for the porous carbon needed and also a cheap material. With further researching, hydrogen refueling stations could cost at least the same as petrol fuel stations, giving the whole fuel cell vehicles idea a big push towards becoming a common day reality.
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