$3M DOE grant for hydrogen storage and production research

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Professor Paul S. Weiss is co-leader on a collaborative research project with the Savannah River National Lab (SRNL), which recently received a $3 million DOE grant to further fundamental research capable of enabling new pathways for hydrogen storage and production technologies.

The award is part of DOE’s recent announcement of awarding $540 million for university- and national laboratory-led research into clean energy technologies and low-carbon manufacturing to transform energy production and cut emissions.

The Weiss lab will use its unique nanoscale imaging tools to explore the surface and subsurface chemistry of MXenes, chemically active layered materials discovered by co-investigator Prof. Yury Gogotsi of Drexel University. These materials have not previously been explored at this scale.

The research will provide greater insight into the surface characteristics that promote dissociation and recombination of hydrogen on material surfaces and the behavior of subsurface hydrogen species. The objective is to provide in-depth analyses of the interactions between MXenes, two-dimensional materials, and hydrogen, as well as the influence of external stimuli to fine-tune these interactions. The team of four researchers is led by SRNL researcher Dr. Patrick Ward, with Gogotsi, Weiss, and Professor Kah Chun Lau from California State University Northridge all contributing.

“Utilizing a theory-guided experimental approach, we can systematically evaluate the nature and mechanistic behavior behind the interactions of hydrogen with these materials,” said Ward. “By combining our knowledge of the basic influential surface and subsurface features, which dominate the hydrogen interaction behavior with induced behaviors from external stimuli, a cohesive and complete perspective can be obtained. It is through expansion of our fundamental understanding of the physical world that led to great advances in technology. We have assembled an extraordinary team, which is determined to accomplish this,” he said.

This fundamental research supports underpinning aspects of the three DOE Energy Earthshots, initiatives to set goals for improvements in clean-energy technologies. This research is particularly suited for addressing the Hydrogen Shot initiative, which seeks to reduce the cost of clean hydrogen by 80% to $1 per 1 kilogram in 1 decade (“1 1 1”) and to unlock new markets for hydrogen.

Weiss holds a UC Presidential Chair and is a distinguished professor of chemistry & biochemistry, bioengineering, and materials science & engineering. He leads an interdisciplinary research group focused on understanding and controlling chemistry, physics, biology, and materials at the smallest scales. Weiss was the founding editor-in-chief of ACS Nano, one of the top scientific journals in nanoscience and nanotechnology, and he served as the journal’s Editor-in-Chief from 2007-2021. He held the Fred Kavli Chair in NanoSystems Sciences from 2009–2014 and was the director of the UCLA California NanoSystems Institute, of which he is a member.