On the road to petroleum independence and greenhouse-gas reduction, the old internal combustion engine will someday need to be scrapped. That will only occur when the alternative -- most likely the hydrogen-powered fuel cell -- is as cheap and convenient to use as the conventional automobile is today.
It's perhaps the toughest challenge in fuel-cell research: designing a safe, lightweight and compact hydrogen fuel tank. Two recent papers, published in the April 22 and May 6 issues of the journal Physical Review Letters, find the most promising hydrogen storage medium is in something called carbon nanostructures.
Both papers, funded by grants from the Department of Energy, are theoretical and computational simulations. Neither team has made the nanostructures envisioned, although both have now taken their quest to the lab to try fabricating the materials proposed.