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Hydrogen & Fuel Cells

Chicken feathers to be used for hydrogen storage


Scientists at the University of Delaware have developed a hydrogen storage method using chicken feathers. Image sourced from the University of Delaware

Scientists at the University of Delaware have developed a hydrogen storage method using chicken feathers. According to the scientists, carbonized chicken feather fibers can hold vast amounts of hydrogen and do it at a far lower cost than other methods currently available.

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Chicken feather fibers are mostly composed of keratin, a natural protein that forms strong, hollow tubes. When heated, keratin forms crosslinks that strengthen its structure and it becomes more porous, thereby increasing its surface area. As a result, it can absorb as much as or perhaps more hydrogen than conventional carbon nanotubes or metal hydrides.

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The use of carbonized chicken feathers would only add about $200 to the price of a car. By comparison, making a 20-gallon hydrogen fuel tank that uses carbon nanotubes could cost $5.5 million, while one that uses metal hydrides could cost up to $30,000.

“Carbonized chicken feather fibers have the potential to dramatically improve upon existing methods of hydrogen storage and perhaps pave the way for the practical development of a truly hydrogen-based energy economy,” says Richard P. Wool, professor of chemical engineering and director of the University's Affordable Composites from Renewable Resources (ACRES) program.


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Katrice R. Jalbuena


Sources:

1 http://www.udel.edu/udaily/2009/jun/feathers062309.html
2 http://www.udel.edu/

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