Into the realm of speculative science we go for this one: A group of scientists at Washington State University say they are mapping out strategies for using nanosprings to help store hydrogen.
“What are nanosprings?” you ask. They are minuscule silicon oxide-based creations of professors at WSU and Idaho that, as their name suggests, have a spiral shape and have been designed to hold hydrogen atoms in place, so they don’t go bouncing around the ether, as they are known to do.
Currently, hydrogen is stored in very sophisticated tanks, under heavy electronic guard. The nanosprings would coil themselves around the hydrogen atoms and create enough pressure to hold them in place.
What does all this have to do with automotive concerns? Well, hydrogen is being touted as an alternative fuel source these days. It’s a bit difficult to store, however, because of its volatility and its propensity to combine with elements—like oxygen, which turns that precious intended auto fuel into so much water.
Whether these nanosprings do what they’re supposed to do remains to be seen. The scientists admit that replacing even a small hydrogen tank would take an enormous amount of nanosprings. They might be on to something, though.