Local interest in natural gas technology for vehicles might open new doors

Our research was recently spotlighted at the Columbia Daily Tribune. Here is an excerpt:

“The city of Columbia might be a test case for cutting-edge improvements to natural gas-powered vehicles as it prepares to bring in a compressed natural gas station and experiment with other advanced natural gas technologies… …A group of University of Missouri researchers hopes to make natural gas available to a wider array of vehicle models through the development of absorbed natural gas, or ANG, technology, which can provide the same amount of energy as compressed natural gas tanks while taking up less space and requiring less pressure — about 500 psi — thus making the tanks more suitable for lighter vehicles such as passenger cars…”

Click Here to Read the Full Article at the Columbia Daily Tribune

Infrared study of boron-carbon chemical bonds in boron-doped activated carbon

Romanos, J.; Beckner, M.; Stalla, D.; Tekeei, A.; Suppes, G.; Jalisatgi, S.; Lee, M.;  Hawthorne, F.; Robertson, J. D.; Firlej, L.; Kuchta, B.; Wexler, C.; Yu, P.; Pfeifer, P., Infrared study of boron-carbon chemical bonds in boron-doped activated carbon. Carbon.

We report Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) studies of boron-doped activated carbons. The functional groups for hydrogen adsorption in these materials, the boron-related chemical bonds, are studied by comparing the activated carbon materials with and without boron doping. The activated carbon materials are prepared from corncob biomass waste feedstock through KOH activation, yielding adsorbents with a high surface area. Boron atoms are doped into the activated carbon by vapor deposition of decaborane up to a solubility of 6.8 weight percent. Continue reading

Increased H2 gravimetric storage capacity in truncated carbon slit pores modeled by Grand Canonical Monte Carlo

Firlej, L.; Kuchta, B.; Lazarewicz, A.; Pfeifer, P., Increased H2 gravimetric storage capacity in truncated carbon slit pores modeled by Grand Canonical Monte Carlo. Carbon.

Hydrogen adsorption in slit shaped pores built up from truncated graphene fragments has been simulated using Grand Canonical Monte Carlo technique and the influence of pore wall edges on hydrogen storage by physisorption has been analyzed. We show that due to the additional gas adsorption at the pore edges the adsorbed gravimetric amount significantly increases (by a factor of two) with respect to models of pores with infinite graphene walls. The contribution of the edges’ adsorption to the total hydrogen uptake is independent of the pore wall shape but it depends on its surface. We also show that the maximum of the excess adsorption shifts towards higher pressures when the edge contribution increases. Continue reading

GE and MU Researchers Developing At-Home Refueling Station for NG Vehicles

As part of an ARPA-E program, GE will lead a project to demonstrate an at-home refueling station that meets the agency's cost target of $500 per station and reduces re-fueling times to <1 hour.

Goal of ARPA-E project to achieve 10X reduction in station costs and cut re-fueling time for Natural Gas (NG) vehicles from a whole work day to under one hour

Developing unique approach to re-fueling that would replace more expensive and complex compressor technologies used today

Initial focus will be on re-fueling stations for fleet vehicles, with an eye to passenger vehicles in the future

In what could help fuel widespread adoption of NG vehicles in the US and globally, GE researchers, in partnership with Chart Industries and scientists at the University of Missouri, have been awarded a program through Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy (ARPA-E) to develop an affordable at-home refueling station that would meet ARPA-E’s target of $500 per station and reduce re-fueling times from 5-8 hours to less than 1 hour. Continue reading

America, Start Your Natural-Gas Engines


Credit: Douglas Fraser

Our research has been just featured in an article in the Wall Street Journal.

“Meanwhile, researchers at the University of Missouri have developed a smaller tank that allows natural gas to be stored at a much lower pressure by keeping it in a material essentially made out of corncobs turned into charcoal briquettes. Early tests of the tank on a natural-gas pickup truck have worked well, according to researchers.”


Nanospace engineering of KOH activated carbon


Romanos, J. et al. Nanospace engineering of KOH activated carbon. Nanotechnology 23, 015401 (2012).

This paper demonstrates that nanospace engineering of KOH activated carbon is possible by controlling the degree of carbon consumption and metallic potassium intercalation into the carbon lattice during the activation process. High specific surface areas, porosities, sub-nanometer (<1 nm) and supra-nanometer (1–5 nm) pore volumes are quantitatively controlled by a combination of KOH concentration and activation temperature. The process typically leads to a bimodal pore size distribution, with a large, approximately constant number of sub-nanometer pores and a variable number of supra-nanometer pores. We show how to control the number of supra-nanometer pores in a manner not achieved previously by chemical activation. Continue reading

Hydrogen storage in engineered carbon nanospaces

Burress, J. et al. Hydrogen storage in engineered carbon nanospaces. Nanotechnology 20, 204026 (2009).

It is shown how appropriately engineered nanoporous carbons provide materials for reversible hydrogen storage, based on physisorption, with exceptional storage capacities (~80 g H2/kg carbon, ~50 g H2/liter carbon, at 50 bar and 77 K). Nanopores generate high storage capacities (a) by having high surface area to volume ratios, and (b) by hosting deep potential wells through overlapping substrate potentials from opposite pore walls, giving rise to a binding energy nearly twice the binding energy in wide pores. Experimental case studies are presented with surface areas as high as 3100  m2 g−1, in which 40% of all surface sites reside in pores of width ~0.7 nm and binding energy ~9 kJ mol−1, and 60% of sites in pores of width>1.0 nm and binding energy ~5 kJ mol−1. Continue reading

Enhanced hydrogen adsorption in boron substituted carbon nanospaces

Firlej, L., Roszak, S., Kuchta, B., Pfeifer, P. & Wexler, C. Enhanced hydrogen adsorption in boron substituted carbon nanospaces. The Journal of chemical physics 131, 164702 (2009).

Activated carbons are one of promising groups of materials for reversible storage of hydrogen by physisorption. However, the heat of hydrogen adsorption in such materials is relatively low, in the range of about 4–8 kJ/mol, which limits the total amount of hydrogen adsorbed at P = 100 bar to ∼ 2 wt % at room temperature and ∼ 8 wt % at 77 K. To improve the sorption characteristics the adsorbing surfaces must be modified either by substitution of some atoms in the all-carbon skeleton by other elements, or by doping/intercalation with other species. In this letter we present ab initio calculations and Monte Carlo simulations showing that substitution of 5%–10% of atoms in a nanoporous carbon by boron atoms results in significant increases in the adsorption energy (up to 10–13.5 kJ/mol) and storage capacity ( ∼ 5 wt % at 298 K, 100 bar) with a 97% delivery rate.

Natural Gas Vehicle Research Roadmap


Natural Gas Vehicle Research Roadmap Consultant Report Done by the California Energy Commission.

The California Energy Commission’s Natural Gas Vehicle Research Roadmap identifies initiatives and projects that research, develop, demonstrate, and deploy advanced fuel-efficient natural gas powered transportation technologies and fuel switching strategies that result in a cost-effective reduction of on-road and off-road petroleum fuel use in the short and long term. Research roadmap findings show that there exists a lack of heavy-duty and off-road engines sizes or capacity, and that vehicle integration of new engines is a significant hurdle to greater natural gas vehicle availability and market penetration. Specific research topics include Engine Development and Vehicle Integration, Fueling Infrastructure and Storage and Technical and Strategic Studies.

State Alternative Fuels Plan


State Alternative Fuels Plan by California Energy Commission

Assembly Bill 1007, (Pavley, Chapter 371, Statutes of 2005) required the California Energy Commission to prepare a state plan to increase the use of alternative fuels in California (State Alternative Fuels Plan).

The Energy Commission prepared the plan in partnership with the California Air Resources Board and in consultation with the other state, federal, and local agencies.

In preparing the State Alternative Fuels Plan, the Committee incorporated and built on the work by the Bio-Energy Interagency Working Group, the work of other agencies, and also examined the broader suite of alternative fuels that could benefit California’s transportation market.