Women in Nanoscience

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Women in Nano Blog

Eun Seon Cho (LBNL) creates a super-sponge for hydrogen gas molecules in fuel cells

Posted on March 22, 2016 at 4:20 PM

The market share of electric-drive vehicles, including full-electric, hybrids, and plug-in hybrid vehicles in 2015, now contributes about 3 percent of car sales. But not much success has been made in getting hydrogen-powered vehicles on the road. A number of major car companies, including Toyota, Honda and General Motors, are investing in making hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, but the major roadblock they face is the difficulty in storing dense hydrogen gas safely.


(Eun Seon in her lab at LBNL in 2016).


In a recent paper in Nature Communications, Dr. Eun Seon Cho, a post-doc at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), and her colleagues came up with a new recipe for a battery-like hydrogen fuel cell which can store exceptionally dense hydrogen gas - (6.5 wt% and 0.105 kg H2 per litre in the total composite). They used Mg nanocrystals encapsulated by atomically thin, gas- selective reduced graphene oxide sheets (rGO) as a storage system for hydrogen. The Mg nanocrystals act as a sponge to hold the hydrogen gas, while the graphene layer protects the nanocrystals from oxygen and other impurities and allows the small hydrogen molecules to pass through it. What’s neat about this ensemble is that the unwanted degradation of metal hydrides is prevented due to selective filtering provided by the graphene layer. This means that the overall storage tank size is reduced because of the faster fuelling permitted by their use of nanocrystals.


(End of the year lunch with her research group at LBNL in 2015).


Cho says that, among current metal hydride-based materials, their method promises better performance in terms of capacity, reversibility, kinetics and stability. Her next step is to try different catalysts to improve the speed and efficiency of these chemical reactions.


(Eun Seon loves travelling. This is her picture from her trip to South Korea (the city of Jeonju) in 2013.)


Eun Seon has been a post-doc scholar with LBNL’s Molecular Foundry since 2013. She received her bachelors and master’s degrees from Seoul National University and a PhD from MIT in materials science and engineering. Her current career goal is to become a faculty member and have more fun in the nanoscience field.


(Eun Seon in Switzerland (Grindelwald) in 2012).



(Photo credit: Provided by and used with permission from Dr. Eun Seon Cho).


- Written by Nakita Sengar, edited by Paulette Clancy

Categories: WINnews

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