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Tuesday, Jul 23, 2024

H2MOF’s Quest: Hydrogen Storage in Solid State

A local startup, co-founded by Nobel Prize-winning chemist Fraser Stoddart and scientist Omar Yaghi, is developing molecularly engineered storage technology capable of storing hydrogen in a solid state.

H2MOF is tackling what it believes is the biggest issue currently facing the hydrogen economy.

“Hydrogen can be produced by various means, but somebody needs to store it,” Chief Technology Officer Neel Sirosh told the Business Journal.

The startup, launched in 2021 in Irvine where it has its R&D facilities, was formed to commercialize Stoddart and Yaghi’s combined 20 years’ worth of researching materials that can store hydrogen.

Metal-Organic Framework

H2MOF’s hydrogen storage tanks are made from metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) nanomaterials, which were first created by Yaghi.

Referred to as the father of reticular chemistry, Yaghi was awarded the Albert Einstein Award of Science in 2017 for his discovery.

The material, which resembles tightly woven nets, is designed to absorb and hold hydrogen molecules.

Hydrogen has the highest energy density among all combustible fuels while releasing zero emissions, making it a desirable fuel alternative, according to Stoddart.

Up until now, finding ways to store hydrogen safely and efficiently has been difficult due to it being the lightest element on Earth.

Low-Cost Storage

Existing methods of storing hydrogen are costly and have a high-energy consumption, according to CTO Sirosh.

Hydrogen is currently stored either by high-pressurized compression or liquifying it at cryogenic temperatures.

H2MOF’s tanks store hydrogen at low pressures and room temperature to reduce energy waste and avoid the need for expensive high-pressure and liquefaction equipment.

The demand for technology to store and transport hydrogen is expected to increase with California passing a state mandate to become carbon neutral by 2045.

California currently uses 2 million metric tons of hydrogen annually, according to Sirosh.
While transportation accounts for a portion of this, Sirosh said it is only a “miniscule” amount compared to other industries.

Sirosh said a bulk of hydrogen is used by petroleum and chemical industries for refining and making silicon fertilizers.

“We don’t need to wait for the entire transportation segment to be converted to hydrogen before we have relevance of the technology we can use,” Sirosh said.

H2MOF said so far it has received funding from a company in Jersey, Channel Islands called Revonence Technologies International. It didn’t disclose for how much but said H2MOF will be “fully funded for at least the next three to five years.”

As for goals, the startup aims to set up infrastructure for in-house testing and hopefully have a finished prototype by the end of this year.

“We’re taking a methodical approach to testing and safety testing for hydrogen fuel cells with the goal of releasing it to the public in the next couple of years,” Sirosh said.

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